Anti-hate crimes legislation passes Pennsylvania House
Bill sponsors Frankel, Nelson hail bipartisan vote
HARRISBURG, Oct. 31 – Legislation to expand and strengthen Pennsylvania’s anti-hate crimes statutes won bipartisan passage out of the Pennsylvanian House Tuesday, putting Pennsylvania on track to take action amid a nationwide spike in criminal activity fueled by hatred.
State Reps. Dan Frankel and Napoleon Nelson, sponsors of the bill package, called on the Senate to act quickly to signal to all vulnerable groups that Pennsylvania’s state government stands with them.
“The conflict in Israel has Jewish and Muslim Pennsylvanians feeling afraid – afraid to leave home, afraid to practice their faith, afraid to gather with their communities at a time when such events would bring them the most comfort,” said Frankel, D-Allegheny. “The vast majority of Pennsylvanians want this commonwealth to be a welcoming, diverse place for all, and that is the call legislators answered today.”
Frankel noted that once the legislative package becomes law, Pennsylvania will join the majority of states that acknowledge the growing scourge of attacks on Americans for who they are, how they look or who they love.
Nelson said, “Look at the headlines about what’s happening at our colleges, and you’ll see why kids don’t feel safe on campus – especially if they’re black, brown, Jewish, Muslim … the list of groups experiencing the rise in ethnic intimidation continues. I wish I could say our legislation will help eradicate hate. It won’t – that’s a different conversation. But House Bill 1024 and House Bill 1025 would help us better understand and recognize ethnic intimidation, which often goes unreported.
“Even when a report is made, police often fail to properly categorize it as a hate crime. We must strengthen reporting and training processes for school staff and police officers to help correct this, so we can collect the data to help us understand the indicators and experiences that lead young folks to embrace hateful ideology.”
The legislative package includes:
- HB 1027 – New Protections under Ethnic Intimidation Statute (Frankel, Nelson) would amend Pennsylvania’s Ethnic Intimidation Statute to ensure protections for victims targeted because of their race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age and disability, including autism. The bill would also provide victims with a civil cause of action against offenders. The bill passed 116-86.
- HB 1024 – Hate Crime Training for Law Enforcement (Frankel, Nelson) would provide our law enforcement officials with the tools they need to properly investigate, identify and report hate crimes. The bill passed 112-90.
- HB 1025 – Reporting System for Educational Institutions (Nelson, Frankel) would require postsecondary institutions to offer online and anonymous hate crime reporting options for students and employees. The bill would also encourage training for K-12 school employees in identifying and addressing hate incidents. The bill passed 111-91.
Legislation to expand protections to cover LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities was signed into law by a Republican governor more than 20 years ago, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the changes unconstitutional on technical grounds in 2008.
Companion legislation has been introduced by Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa.
House passage of the legislation comes almost exactly five years after an antisemitic attack took the lives of 11 people in their synagogues in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
ATTENTION EDITORS/ASSIGNMENT DESKS: Video of Frankel speaking on the legislation is available here: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/qv6jlce5m7rcxje2t81ef/103123-Frankel-HB-1027.mp4?rlkey=p98ljaapfnmmwy0ixqqpu9cfs&dl=0, and video of Nelson speaking on the legislation is available here: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/5xmcaqjli3fex2c43xw3p/103123-Nelson-1025.mp4?rlkey=zpd06bczpt7khiw54wxfczz6n&dl=0
Photos are here: https://www.pahouse.com/nelson/PhotoGallery?g=5804