Discrimination Bill Debated
Everyone’s talking about H.B. 300 – in Harrisburg, anyway. The House Democratic Policy Committee heard from legal and business experts this week regarding the impact that discrimination is having on Pennsylvania businesses and local governments and how the legislation could positively impact the state, according to committee Chairman Mike Sturla, a Democrat from Lancaster County.
State Rep. Dan Frankel, (D-Allegheny), requested the hearing and served as its co-chair. Frankel introduced House Bill 300, which would protect people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“In recent polls, Pennsylvanians have made it clear that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable in our Commonwealth,” Sturla says. “The wave of support is growing across the state in favor of measures like House Bill 300.”
Frankel explains, “In addition to making state law more fair and just, this would make Pennsylvania more economically competitive. We are surrounded on three of four sides by states that ban anti-gay discrimination – Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. They have a competitive advantage over Pennsylvania when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses and residents. I applaud the growing number of municipalities enacting these protections at the local level, but an estimated 70 percent of Pennsylvanians still live or work in communities that do not provide these protections. The people of Pennsylvania support this commonsense change, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Jeffrey Harbison, the president of the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners, Ted Martin, executive director of Equality PA, Jenna Mehnert, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers’ Pennsylvania Chapter, and Evan Urbania, president of the Independence Business Alliance in Philadelphia, all testified during the hearing.
The fate of the bill is expected to be decided this year.