Pennsylvania House of Representatives Passes Three Bills to Strengthen Anti-Hate Crime Statutes

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Passes Three Bills to Strengthen Anti-Hate Crime Statutes

Three bills aimed at expanding and fortifying Pennsylvania’s anti-hate crime laws were approved by the state House of Representatives on Tuesday. The proposals received support from all members of the Democratic majority in the chamber, as well as a few Republicans. The vote comes amidst national concerns over a surge in hate crimes during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. According to a recent FBI report, hate crimes in the United States increased by 7% in 2022, totaling 11,634 cases.

The sponsors of the bills stated that Pennsylvania witnessed a significant rise in hate crimes in 2021, surpassing any previous year since tracking began in 1997. The legislation also coincides with the five-year anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting, where 11 individuals were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue due to the perpetrator’s antisemitic motives.

One of the bills seeks to amend the state’s ethnic intimidation statute to a “hate-based intimidation” law, expanding its protections to include victims targeted based on race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, and disability, including autism. This measure, passed by a vote of 116-86, would enable victims to pursue legal action.

Another bill, approved by a vote of 112-90, addresses law enforcement’s handling of hate crimes by mandating annual training on investigating, identifying, and reporting such incidents. The training would be conducted in consultation with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the state attorney general.

The third bill, passed by a vote of 111-91, requires higher education institutions to expand their online and anonymous reporting options to include hate crimes for students and employees. It also encourages training for K-12 school employees to identify and address hate incidents. The attorney general’s office, responsible for a youth violence prevention program, will be required to incorporate training on recognizing and reporting hate-based intimidation.

Representative Dan Frankel, the sponsor of the bills, emphasized the fear experienced by Jewish and Muslim Pennsylvanians due to the conflict in Israel. He stated that individuals are afraid to leave their homes, practice their faith, and gather with their communities during a time when such events would provide solace.

The bills have now been sent to the state Senate for further consideration.


Author: CrimeDoor

Leave a Reply

Share on:

[mailpoet_form id="1"]

Subscribe to Our Newsletter