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Harris applauds passage of bipartisan occupational licensure reform

Harris receives Equal Justice Award from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

(May 31, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, May 31 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, was presented today with the Equal Justice Award from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. He received the award at the organization’s annual Breakfast of Champions event at the Double Tree Hotel in Philadelphia. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, was presented the award for his service and commitment to the mission of CLS and his outstanding work in advocating for criminal justice reform for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents. In 2016, he championed Act 5 of 2016, which allows individuals who have served their punishment and remained free of arrest or prosecution for seven to 10 years, for non-violent misdemeanors, to petition the court to seal their criminal records. He is also a sponsor of the clean slate bill – H.B. 1984 – that would automatically seal low-level, non-violent misdemeanors upon rehabilitation. In Pennsylvania, 37.5 percent of working-age residents are estimated to have some type of criminal record. Many of these residents have misdemeanors, summary offenses or arrests without convictions. However, even a minor criminal record can create barriers to employment, housing and educational opportunities. “I am extremely honored to be the recipient of Community Legal Services’ Equal Justice Award,” Harris said. “This award serves as a reminder that although we have seen some progress in terms Read more


Harris aims to raise awareness of sickle cell disease

(May 23, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 23 – A group of organizations joined state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., to advocate for patients suffering from sickle cell disease, discuss new health policy initiatives and ask for support for science and clinical research. "Sickle cell is a hereditary disease with a high prevalence among African-Americans and people of color,” Harris said. “The goal of this special month is to educate people about sickle cell and provide support to individuals and their families whose lives have been touched by the disease. It’s also an opportunity to support research activities that can lead to improved treatment and, one day, a cure.” Sickle cell anemia is a serious blood disorder that causes acute pain, severe anemia, infections and vascular blockages that can lead to widespread organ damage and death. It is a genetic disease, affecting 2 million Americans, most often African-Americans and Hispanics. Until the past few decades, most people with sickle cell disease did not live beyond young adulthood, but advances in treatment have improved and lengthened the lives of patients who have access to good medical care. “Children born with sickle cell are at a particularly high risk for complications, including stroke. Early detection and appropriate intervention is the key to treating sickle cell and minimizing its effects on patients,” Harris said. Harris explained that in 2015, Pennsylvania created a new budget line Read more


Harris on Sickle Cell Advocacy

(May 23, 2017)

Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jordan Harris spoke to a group of advocates gathered in the State Capitol for Sickle Cell Advocacy Day. Harris encouraged them to speak to as many legislators as possible and to advocate with anyone who will listen for restored funding in the state budget for Sickle Cell resources. Read more


Governor visits 186th District, Harris to discuss 'Ban the Box' executive order

(May 08, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, May 8 – State Rep. Jordan A. Harris, D-Phila., announced Friday he joined Gov. Tom Wolf to discuss the governor's executive order to “Ban the Box.” The governor announced he would update state employment applications to no longer ask about criminal history. “Not only do I believe that this is sound public policy in the way of reducing overall rates of recidivism in our Commonwealth, it also provides the perfect opportunity for the public sector to lead by example in the way of espousing the virtue of compassion and extending a true second chance to our formerly convicted citizens,” Harris said. The Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards Ordinance, more commonly known as “Ban the Box," serves as a public policy to remove the initial screening question that asks criminal history information from an employment application. It does not remove the question of criminal history from the hiring process, but instead defers the question until the first interview is conducted. The governing or legislative body seeking to adopt such a "Ban the Box" policy has the prerogative to exempt certain sensitive positions from this policy (e.g., law enforcement positions, positions dealing with vulnerable populations). Harris co-sponsored H.R. 296 that was introduced earlier this year, urging the Office of Administration to adopt a “Ban the Box” policy relating to certain state agency employment Read more


Harris: House mandatory minimums bill would repeat failures of past

(Apr 05, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 5 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, strongly opposed a bill the House passed today (H.B. 741) that would revive several mandatory minimum sentences that have been struck down in the courts. "Mandatory minimums don't work. Between 1980 and 1995, when mandatory minimums were popular and in full effect here and in other states, violent crime actually increased nearly 20 percent," Harris said. "Mandatory minimums silence the voice of the voters who elect judges, not robots. Mandatory minimums remove discretion – just as with hats, one size does not fit all. "And apparently many of those who voted for mandatory minimums don't actually want to fund them. House Republicans also passed a budget this week that would cut $130 million more from the Corrections Department than the governor's budget would – even though the mandatory minimum bill would add another $66 million to $85 million per year in costs! For the same amount this bill would cost, we could provide drug treatment for more than 9,000 people." Harris said he hopes the state Senate will take a wiser approach. "I've been working on criminal justice reform with members of both parties in the House and Senate, as well as groups that range from progressive to conservative. There's strong public support in Pennsylvania for criminal justice reform and I still believe Read more


Harris: Mandatory Minimums Do Not Work

(Apr 05, 2017)

Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus, state Rep. Jordan Harris argues against reinstating mandatory minimum sentencing for certain crimes in Pennsylvania. Read more


Harris, Wheatley seek to end out-of-school suspensions for elementary school students for minor infractions

(Apr 03, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 3 – Citing research that shows their correlation to exacerbating behavior problems and academic setbacks , state Reps. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, and Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, are seeking to end out-of-school suspensions for kindergarten through fifth-grade students for minor disobedience or misconduct. Harris and Wheatley are the driving force behind H.B. 715, which they discussed today at a Capitol news conference attended by other like-minded legislators. “Well-established research indicates that expulsions and suspensions negatively impact the education, development, health and life of students – particularly those of a young age,” Wheatley said. “This bill seeks to keep more school-age children where they belong, which is in school.” Harris and Wheatley shared that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education have asked states to revamp their suspension and expulsion practices, with an eye toward reduction. “If we want to strengthen the educational foundation of the commonwealth’s young people, one way to do that is making sure that out-of-school suspensions at the elementary level are reserved only for serious offenses,” Harris said. “It is better to keep as many students as possible in school instead of sending them home, where they may be nsupervised and may fall further behind academically.” Supporters of the bill include Read more


MEDIA ADVISORY: Harris, Wheatley to discuss elementary school suspension legislation

(Mar 30, 2017)

HARRISBURG, March 30 – State Reps. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., and Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, will discuss H.B. 715 – their bill to ban out-of-school suspensions for kindergarten through fifth-grade students for minor disobedience or misconduct – at a news conference at 12:30 p.m. Monday, April 3 in the Capitol Media Center. Harris and Wheatley co-sponsored the legislation, which arose from research showing that out-of-school suspension exacerbates behavior problems and can lead to academic setbacks. They also believe such suspensions too often leave students unsupervised at home and unable to learn appropriate behavior. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education have encouraged states to work toward the elimination of suspension and expulsion practices, and Harris and Wheatley intend to explain how their reform legislation aims to strengthen the educational foundation of the commonwealth’s young people. Media coverage is invited. Read more


Harris welcomes positive Pa. poll on criminal justice reform, progress on 'Clean Slate' legislation

(Mar 22, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 22 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, welcomed a new poll out today that shows strong, bipartisan support among Pennsylvanians for criminal justice reform. "People make mistakes, but everyone deserves the right to demonstrate that they’ve learned from that mistake and are willing to change their ways," Harris said. "That’s one of the reasons why over 88 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans in the state agree that it doesn’t matter how long people are in jail, it matters that they don’t commit a crime when they return back to their communities. We need to take action and work on legislation that will improve public safety and put people back to work." Harris also welcomed the news that more than half the state Senate is co-sponsoring "Clean Slate" legislation being introduced by Sens. Scott Wagner, R-York, and Anthony Hardy Williams, D-Phila./Delaware. Harris and Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, are seeking House co-sponsors for the legislation, which would automatically seal the records for certain nonviolent offenses if the person hasn't committed another crime. Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing low-level, non-violent misdemeanors. Harris said the new legislation he's advocating would improve on Act 5, which requires former offenders to petition the court. Read more


PLBC disappointed at return of secretive policing bill

(Mar 20, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 20 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the PLBC is disappointed at the return of the police secrecy bill the House passed today and is calling for Gov. Tom Wolf to veto it again. Similar to a bill Wolf vetoed at the end of last session, H.B. 27 would block the release of the name of a police officer who discharges his or her firearm or uses force that results in death or serious injury until the completion of an official investigation that is not defined and that could take up to 30 days after the incident. "This bill would further erode the trust between citizens, specifically people of color, and our police forces at a time when police-community relations are too often strained," Harris said. "Hiding the name of a police officer involved in a potentially deadly encounter is not the way to improve trust between law enforcement and communities that have historically been marginalized by those in power. "We need more trust between police and the people they serve, not less." Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., vice chairwoman of the PLBC, said, "Transparency is a goal we strive for at all levels of government. Police departments perform a highly skilled and dangerous job for the people, but they also should remain accountable to the people. I believe those ideas are not mutually exclusive and that acknowledging this will help build better relations among Read more


Harris, PLBC condemn recent acts of hate

(Feb 28, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 28 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said today, "The members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus condemn the hate crimes that are on the rise lately, including the disgusting vandalism at a Philadelphia Jewish cemetery, the threats to several Jewish community centers in Pennsylvania and the horrific shooting of two Indians in Kansas and another man who came to their aid. "We stand with our Jewish and Indian brothers and sisters, and all who have been victimized by these acts of hate. An attack on one is an attack on all, and those responsible for these acts must be brought to justice." ### Read more


Harris announces $22,280 grant for Wilson Park Senior Community Center

(Feb 22, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., announced today that the Philadelphia Housing Authority's Wilson Park Senior Community Center has been awarded a $22,280 Senior Community Center grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. The grant is part of a $2 million Senior Community Center Grant program available through the Pennsylvania Department of Aging for enhancements that increase participation and programming, attract a new generation of older adults, and enable senior community centers to provide a safe and healthy environment for participants. "I am thrilled PHA’s Wilson Park Senior Community Center has been awarded funding to enhance the services offered to seniors in my district. Senior community centers like Wilson Park provide valuable services and this funding will help improve and expand access to these programs," Harris said. Applications for the grant were open to any of the more than 500 senior community centers across the 67 counties in Pennsylvania. Read more


PLBC accepting scholarship applications

(Feb 13, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 13 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, has announced the PLBC’s annual scholarship competition is open for the 2017-18 school year. The scholarships are available for high school seniors and first-year college students who will be enrolled in an accredited two- or four-year Pennsylvania college or university. Harris said the students applying for the scholarship must be a minority student, have a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, and demonstrate leadership qualities. A 250-word essay on the student’s academic plans and career goals must be submitted. Only the first 250 applications submitted will be considered. The PLBC plans to award at least 10 scholarships this year. Each scholarship will be $1,000. To obtain an application and more details about the program, students can visit www.pahouse.com/plbc and click on the Scholarships tab. If they have any additional questions about the PLBC Scholarship Program, applicants can contact Harris’ office at (717) 772-6955. The deadline to submit an application is Saturday, April 22. Read more


Harris Honors City Year

(Feb 06, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris speaks on his resolution honoring City Year Philadelphia. City Year is a national program of public service that helps high school students graduate and celebrates 20-years of service in the School District of Philadelphia. Read more


Harris reappointed to powerful House Rules Committee

(Jan 24, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 24 – Building on his legislative success from last session, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., has been reappointed to the House Rules Committee by House Democratic leaders. "It's an honor to have the confidence and trust of the House Democratic leadership for another term on the Rules Committee, which is the most powerful House committee," Harris said. "Last session, legislators from both parties and diverse organizations worked together with me to champion legislation that eventually became law to help expunge criminal records of lesser offenders. In this session, it will be vital to keep fighting for more education funding, as well as commonsense gun laws and criminal justice reform." The Rules Committee consists of the speaker of the House; the majority and minority leaders; the majority and minority whips; the majority and minority appropriations chairmen; 14 members of the majority party appointed by the speaker; and 12 members of the minority party appointed by the minority leader. Unlike other standing committees, which are responsible for a specific area of policy, the Rules Committee is in charge of facilitating the flow of legislation in the House. The Rules Committee is also the only committee that can amend legislation that comes back from the Senate on concurrence and propose amendments to the rules of the House, if needed. Harris will again be serving on four additional committees: Agriculture and Rural Read more


Harris Leads PLBC in New Session

(Jan 23, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris was sworn-in as the new Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. Harris discusses the priorities and directive of the PLBC for the 2017-18 legislative session. Read more


Harris Fighting to Outlaw Conversion Therapy

(Jan 20, 2017)

Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus state Rep. Jordan Harris explains his support for legislation that would outlaw controversial "conversion therapy" that purports to "cure" people of homosexuality. Harris spoke at a press conference at Philadelphia City Hall with the bill's sponsor, Pa. state Rep. Brian Sims, Mayor Jim Kenney, other House colleagues and medical professionals, to lend his support to the legislation that would ban conversion therapy in Pennsylvania. Read more


Sims, Harris, Kenney call for statewide protection from anti-LGBT 'conversion therapy' for Pa. minors

(Jan 19, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 19 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., Mayor Jim Kenney and other elected officials today called for passage of statewide legislation to protect minors from anti-LGBT "conversion therapy." Sims and state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-Phila./Delaware, are the lead sponsors of the legislation in the House and Senate. "In a time of extreme divisiveness, elected officials should seize every opportunity to find areas of common ground. Together, the legislature disagrees on many issues, including those considered LGBT-specific. Today we have a chance to heed the advice of dozens of professional medical associations, and ban a practice that inflicts innocent children with pain and fear. To those still peddling this barbarism as medicine, you cannot fix what is not broken and we will not rest until you are driven from this Commonwealth," said Sims, the state's first out LGBT legislator. State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said, "As adults, we have a duty to protect children, ALL children! We should not endorse or promote, through our silence or our advocacy, any practice that has been proven to be destructive to the developing spirit of a child. This legislation would give our kids the protection that young people already have in California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont and next door in New Jersey." The elected officials were joined by Read more


Harris looking forward to third term

(Jan 03, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 3 – State Rep. Jordan Harris today was sworn into office for his third term as representative for the 186th Legislative District during a ceremony in the Capitol. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives swearing-in corresponds with the first Tuesday in January, every two years. This year is Pennsylvania’s 201st legislative session. “I am thankful my constituents maintain their trust in me,” Harris said. “I will continue to build on that trust and expand on the work that my staff and I accomplished for the 186 th Legislative District.” During his second term, Harris fought for funding for education in Philadelphia, including for Pre-K, and championed legislation that eventually became law to help expunge criminal records of lesser offenders. Harris said he will continue to fight for more education funding, as well as common-sense gun laws and criminal justice reform. In addition to beginning his third, two-year term as state representative, Harris has been named chairman for the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. “It’s an honor to have been elected to serve as chairman of this very important caucus,” Harris said. “With the upcoming session, I will see to it that the members of the Black Caucus stand united and be the voice for African-Americans and people of color across Pennsylvania on key issues, including promoting diversity and inclusion in the commonwealth’s workforce Read more


Harris applauds Wolf’s veto of secretive policing bill

(Nov 21, 2016)

Calling it a victory for transparency and police-community relations, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman-elect of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, thanked Gov. Tom Wolf today for vetoing House Bill 1538. Read more