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Philadelphia elected officials call for state, local reform of community-police relationships

Harris advocates for funding to find a cure for sickle cell disease

(May 07, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – A group of organizations joined state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., to advocate for patients suffering from sickle cell disease and ask for support for science and clinical research. "People of color are suffering from sickle cell disease and their needs are going under the radar. We can no longer allow sickle cell to go unnoticed, questions to go unanswered and research to go unfunded," Harris said last week at the Capitol event. "My commitment, as the chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, is to provide support to individuals and their families whose lives have been touched by the disease." 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. Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila, said, "This budget season, funding for sickle cell research is a priority. It’s our responsibility to provide the best health care available to patients when they need it and have it delivered in a way that provides the best outcomes because being born with sickle cell disease doesn’t mean Read more

 

Harris Shining Light on Sickle Cell

(May 02, 2018)

As chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris joined advocates to raise awareness about sickle cell disease. He specifically shined light on making sure people of color living with the illness don’t go under the radar and receive the treatment they need. Read more

 

Harris: Let's Get Real on SNAP

(May 01, 2018)

During House debate on instituting work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jordan Harris condemns some of his colleagues using the rhetoric of people sitting at home collecting benefits. Harris says the real discussion goes much deeper than just not having a job. Read more

 

Rep. Harris joins Solomon Jones on Praise 107.9 to discuss the crisis in policing in our city and our state

(Apr 18, 2018)

Rep. Harris on how we need to take every opportunity to inform the people and improve the process. Read more

 

Harris Honors 40th Anniversary of Cheyney Champs

(Apr 17, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris welcomed members of the NCAA Division II National Champion Men's Basketball team from Cheyney University on the 40th Anniversary of winning their title. Read more

 

Harris supports new trial for Meek Mill

(Apr 16, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, April 16 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today released the following statement supporting Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s call to vacate the conviction of Philadelphia rapper Robert Williams, better known as Meek Mill, and Krasner's announcement of his support for Mill to receive a new trial: “Meek Mill is just one of the countless Black men in our nation who are disproportionately impacted by our criminal justice system – despite the fact that they are not more likely to commit crimes. With the arresting officer’s credibility being under question, it’s time that we include this into evidence and reassess the original charge," Harris said. “I hope that moving forward, Larry Krasner will implement policies that prevent misconduct among police officers through a stronger complaint review process. We must continue to speak up on behalf of the other ‘Robert Williamses’ who are victims of a broken justice system and who lack the capital and the resources to receive the justice they deserve. This is why the state Senate must immediately pass House Bill 1419 , to provide countless Pennsylvanians with a second chance.” ### Read more

 

Harris Clean Slate Bill Passes House

(Apr 11, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris is co-sponsor of legislation that would expunge minor criminal history from peoples' records, giving them a second chance at a useful & productive life in society. Read more

 

Pa. House passes Clean Slate legislation

(Apr 11, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 11 – The House today approved legislation, authored by state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., and state Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, that would create the Pennsylvania Clean State Law. Building upon Act 5 of 2016, H.B. 1419 would be the first bill of its kind anywhere in the United States. The bill would automatically seal low-level, non-violent misdemeanors, summary offenses and non-conviction records – with no action required by the person. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, called the passage of the legislation a major milestone in criminal justice reform for the nation. Act 5 of 2016 allows for sealing of records if a petition is filed by the accused. “House Bill 1419 will change criminal justice reform in the United States as we know it,” Harris said. “People would no longer have to suffer for mistakes they made years ago. They would no longer be subjected to life as a second-class citizen and would now be able to find gainful employment and successfully pursue a post-secondary education, among many other things. Today, we are sending a clear message that everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of your race, age, ZIP code or level of education.” “People who had a criminal conviction from decades past and have turned their lives around, without any other police involvement, have faced employment barriers due to their prior bad actions,” Delozier said. “By Read more

 

4/5/18 – Healthy Food Options – Philadelphia

(Apr 06, 2018)

Materials from public hearing hosted by Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. Read more

 

PLBC and HDPC examine healthy food options and dairy industry

(Apr 05, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, April 5 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and House Democratic Policy Committee today held a joint policy hearing at the Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences on the importance of increasing access to healthy food options and dairy in various communities throughout Pennsylvania. PLBC Chairman Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said, “Countless residents throughout Pennsylvania go each day without access to fresh produce, dairy and culturally appropriate food options; with many of them being the most vulnerable among us. Our policy hearing today highlighted how we can advance policy to alleviate food insecurity and connect people with healthier and more nutritious food sources. I am thankful for today’s testifiers and look forward to working with them to fully address this issue.” HDPC Chairman Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, added, “Today’s hearing showed that we must do more to increase availability of healthy food throughout Pennsylvania, especially in our underserved communities. I thank Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding for participating today and recognizing the importance of this issue.” Testifiers ranged from various agencies and groups, including the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Fox Chase Farms, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, The Food Trust, The Port of Philadelphia, Associates Pennsylvania Constructors, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Penn Agriculture Read more

 

PLBC to host policy hearing on healthy food access

(Mar 27, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, March 27 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced that the caucus and the House Democratic Policy Committee will host a policy hearing on improving access to healthy food options and dairy in communities across Pennsylvania. Congressman Dwight Evans, D-Phila., will be a guest speaker at the policy hearing. The policy hearing will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, April 5 at the Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences, 7100 Henry Ave., Philadelphia. ### Read more

 

Harris supports Gov. Wolf, Krasner decision on not opposing release of Meek Mill

(Mar 23, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, March 23 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement supporting Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to support Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and not oppose the release of Philadelphia rapper Robert Williams, better known as Meek Mill: “I strongly support Governor Wolf for his support of District Attorney Larry Krasner’s position on not opposing the release of Meek Mill. However, I am also in support of freeing all the other 'Robert Williamses’ who are dealt an unfair hand from our criminal justice system. Williams is not a danger to himself, or society, and should be released. “Cases like Williams’, and so many others like him, are the reason why I have been a strong advocate of reforming our criminal justice system. This is why I worked with Governor Wolf to pass Act 5 of 2016 and to ban the box on all state-level jobs. This is also why I am working with the legislature to pass a clean slate bill into law so others like Williams do not fall victim to a broken criminal justice system.” ### Read more

 

2018 PLBC Scholarship Application

(Mar 15, 2018)

The 2018 PLBC Scholarship Application is now live! Make sure to apply by April 30 to be able to win a $1,000 scholarship. Details here: http://www.pahouse.com/PLBC/Scholarships Read more

 

PLBC announces new Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Reform

(Mar 14, 2018)

HARRISBURG, March 14 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced the creation of a new Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Reform. The subcommittee will be co-chaired by Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, and Sen. Sharif Street, D-Phila., both attorneys. Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., and Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Phila./Delaware, will also serve as members of the subcommittee. Harris said, “Criminal justice reform has become one of the leading issues in Pennsylvania and across our nation. I’m excited that our caucus will be spearheading this initiative and pushing for much needed reforms in the state legislature. While we have made some movement on providing second chances to returning citizens, there are countless other avenues that must be explored if we are to fully restructure our criminal justice system.” The subcommittee will push an aggressive legislative agenda and will also be vital in the creation of a criminal justice advisory group made up of formerly incarcerated people and expert legal practitioners. The advisory committee will be co-chaired by Keir Bradford-Grey, chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and Bill DeWeese, former state representative and the 135th speaker of the House. Among his many legal and legislative accomplishments, Street has supported numerous bills that would reform Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. One bill Read more

 

Harris: Clean Slate Gives People a Second Chance

(Mar 13, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris has been working on legislation to give non-violent offenders who have served their time a second chance at life by giving them a "Clean Slate," improving their prospects for employment and return to society. Read more

 

Harris’ ‘clean slate’ bill moves forward

(Mar 13, 2018)

HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., applauded the House Judiciary Committee's vote today to send his “clean slate” bill to the full House of Representatives. House Bill 1419 , which he introduced with Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, last year, would give people with misdemeanor nonviolent criminal records the opportunity to have their record sealed from public view. “For too long, our society has given lifetime judgments for nonviolent crimes. Citizens who have made mistakes are not criminals and shouldn't be treated as such,” Harris said. “This legislation allows our citizens who have made poor decisions in the past a pathway to productivity in the future.” Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing non-violent misdemeanors, but requires that former offenders file a sealing petition with a court. Under H.B. 1419, though, no action would be needed by the former offender to automatically seal their records. The legislation proposes the following structure for sealing records: nonviolent misdemeanor convictions – sealing would occur after a person has remained crime-free for 10 years. non-conviction records – sealing would be done as a matter of course, given that the presumption of innocence is one of the bedrocks of the American criminal justice system. Read more

 

Wheatley hosts Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise event in Harrisburg

(Mar 12, 2018)

HARRISBURG, March 12 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, hosted an entrepreneurial inclusion summit and business mixer on Monday at the Capitol in Harrisburg . The annual event recognized Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Day. It kicked off with a news conference with Wheatley and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Jordan Harris, D-Phila. “As the House Finance Committee Democratic chairman, supporting and providing fairness and equal opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses is important to me,” said Wheatley. “Having an open dialogue between business owners, service agencies and legislators is a good way to keep the lines of communication open about how we can provide them with better resources and support.” The MWDBE program is designed to encourage minority, women and other disadvantaged business owners to bid for and compete in state and local government bidding opportunities. Harris said, "We believe it's important for businesses owned by people of color, women and disadvantaged people to have a fair shot at competing for state contracts that their tax dollars fund." Additional speakers included Brian A. Hudson Sr., the executive director and CEO of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, and Curt Topper, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services. Following the news conference, participants were invited to attend a networking lunch, and work group Read more

 

PLBC thanks Wolf for calling illegal gun violence a crisis during Phila. visit

(Mar 02, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, March 2 – Leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus thanked Gov. Tom Wolf for calling gun violence a crisis during his visit to Philadelphia today. State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the PLBC, hosted Wolf as the governor and PLBC members visited a memorial to local victims of gun violence. The governor and legislators then held a public roundtable with members of the local community who have been affected by gun violence as well as other local leaders, including Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Harris said: "Illegal gun violence in Pennsylvania is a public health crisis and it's important that we call it that. We must be concerned about the neighborhood shootings that take lives one or two at a time as well as the tragic mass shootings that tend to dominate the headlines. Every victim matters. "So we appreciate Governor Wolf coming to Philadelphia and calling illegal gun violence what it is – a public health crisis. We look forward to working with the administration to identify resources to help stem the tide of gun violence in our communities." Wolf said: "We do need to make sure we are approaching this as the health crisis that this is. We need to make sure that we do everything we can to change the mindset of a nation, a whole nation, that is taking an entirely too casual approach to gun violence." State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., vice chair of the PLBC, said: Read more

 

PLBC to PIAA: scrap head garb waiver rule

(Feb 27, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 27 – State Rep. Jordan Harris and state Sen. Sharif Street, both D-Phila., met with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s executive director Monday to discuss changing the PIAA’s rules requiring a signed waiver for student-athletes who wear religious head garb. The meeting was a result of 16-year-old Nasihah Thompson-King being excluded from participating in a basketball game because she refused to remove her hijab. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said while the meeting was productive, it is up to the PIAA’s board to do the right thing and make the rule change. Harris said, “Our meeting with Dr. Robert A. Lombardi, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, seemed productive. We urged the PIAA to remove the rule requiring a signed waiver for student-athletes to wear religious head garb. Dr. Lombardi agreed to bring our request to the PIAA board during their March meeting. We look forward to their decision to scrap the rule or we will be forced to look into further actions that will require them to comply with state and federal civil rights laws.” Street said, “After meeting with the PIAA, we stressed the importance of religious headgear being included as acceptable equipment, not listed as an exception, or requiring any documentation to be shown. We are encouraged that the rules committee of the PIAA will soon advance these Read more

 

PLBC troubled by waiver requirement for student athletes, calls on PIAA to abandon waiver requirement

(Feb 21, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 21 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said that he and other caucus members were deeply troubled by 16-year-old Nasihah Thompson-King and other student athletes being excluded from participating in sports activities simply because of their religion. Members are calling on the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association to abandon the waiver requirement because it unjustly profiles students based on their religion. Harris said, “Requiring students to sign off on a waiver to prove their religion is unacceptable and completely unnecessary. We are calling on the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association to abolish this discriminatory rule. We must ensure that Pennsylvania students never have to endure the humiliation and mistreatment that Nasihah Thompson-King faced because she chose to wear her hijab.” The PLBC vice chairwoman, Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., said student athletes should not be forced to choose between their religion and participating in sports. Bullock said, “The PIAA waiver put in place singles out young people for no other reason than their religious beliefs. Women of color have far too many obstacles to overcome as it is. Nasihah’s head garb in no way impedes upon her ability to play basketball or any other sport. It’s time for the PIAA to correct this wrong and update their policies regarding the place of religion in sports Read more