|Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
from the 21st district
January 10, 2007
|Preceded by||Pauline Menes|
|College Park City Council|
June 27, 1966 |
|Children||Camilo,(twins) Alejandra and Katerina|
|Residence||College Park, Maryland, USA|
Born in the Dominican Republic, Joseline Peña (maiden name) attended John F. Kennedy High School (Bronx, New York) and graduated from Buffalo State College with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Delegate Peña-Melnyk was determined to be the first in her family to achieve a college degree. She later attended the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she earned her J.D. (Campaign website). After receiving her law degree, Delegate Peña-Melnyk pursued a successful legal career both as a defense attorney and as an Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting criminal cases. Delegate Peña-Melnyk served a two-term tenure on the College Park City Council before being elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2006, and subsequently being reelected in 2010 and 2014.
In the legislature
Delegate Peña-Melnyk is a member of the House Health and Government Operations Committee and its Government Operations and Public Health & Long-Term Care subcommittees. She is also a member of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and the Women Legislators of Maryland. She sits on the Governor’s Wellmobile Program Advisory Board and the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Council, and previously chaired the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Committee and co-chaired the Joint Committee on Behavioral Health Services. She was appointed to the Joint Oversight Committee on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders, the Public Safety and Policing Work Group, the Regional Revitalization Work Group, and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative Work Group. She is a founding member of the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus and served as its first Chairperson.
Delegate Peña-Melnyk has sponsored and co-sponsored many bills over the past ten legislative sessions in support of LGBT issues. She sponsored legislation to ensure equality for transgender individuals, supported the same-sex marriage legislation that is now in effect and delivered a stirring defense of that bill on the House floor that drew the praise of legislators on both sides of the issue.
During the 2012 Legislative Session, Delegate Peña-Melnyk sponsored H.B. 312 which raised the standard for reporting dense breast tissue screening results to women.
Delegate Peña-Melnyk co-sponsored H.B. 439, the Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act. This bill requires the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene to designate areas with documented health disparities and poor health outcomes as Health Enterprise Zones and to target state resources to those areas with the intention of reducing those health disparities and improving health outcomes. It was signed into law by the Governor and became effective July 1, 2012.
In 2010, Delegate Peña-Melnyk co-sponsored H.B. 1017, which specified that certain child wellness benefits must be covered by designated individual, group and blanket health insurance policies in Maryland. The bill requires preventive activities designed to protect children from morbidity and mortality be covered, and includes visits for obesity evaluation and management. This bill, cross-filed in the Senate as S.B. 700, was signed by the Governor and took effect on October 1, 2010.
In 2008, Delegate Peña-Melnyk was the primary sponsor of H.B. 1176, which established the Committee on Childhood Obesity and tasked it with providing recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly on issues such as insurance for the diagnosis and treatment of childhood obesity, data collection on the statewide rate of childhood obesity, best practices to address the epidemic, methods to raise the public awareness, and ways to increase obesity screenings for children. The Committee delivered its report in December 2009, making 12 recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly in the areas of policy and environmental change, health care, public awareness and infrastructure.
Also in 2008, Delegate Peña-Melnyk backed H.B. 1411, the Fitness and Equity for Students with Disabilities Act. This act, which passed and became law on July 1, 2008, ensures that students with disabilities have equal opportunity in physical education and athletic programs.
- Voted for the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2007 (HB359) Maryland Clean Indoor Act (2007)
- Voted in favor of the Tax Reform Act of 2007 (HB2) 
- Sponsored House Bill 30 in 2007, allowing the state to confiscate unused portions of gift certificates after four (4) years 
Democratic Party activist
During the 2008 democratic presidential campaign, Pena-Melnyk endorsed the candidacy of Barack Obama. In 2012, she served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. She also was a member of the electoral college in that election, casting her vote for Barack Obama in a ceremony at Maryland's State House.