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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 8, 2019 11:51 AM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman and Sen. Judith L. Schwank, Sen. Jay Costa
To: All Senate members
Subject: Tolerance, Respect and Understanding Program
Pennsylvania, with the Great Law of 1682, was the first place in the world to issue a declaration of tolerance, respect and understanding. The profound tragedy of the largest mass murder of Jews in American history that occurred in Pittsburgh calls for us to take action to uphold these founding principles and long-standing values.

At a meeting after this incident between the Pennsylvania Jewish Community and Governor Wolf, an idea emerged to protect organizations that serve our communities and to create an atmosphere of tolerance, respect and understanding. This co-sponsorship memo is written to transfer this idea into legislation.

The idea and legislation are based on the legislative approach we used last year to meet the problem of violence in our schools. We established a grant process to both provide for technology and building adaptations, and for programs to help students in psychological distress and isolation.

The proposed legislation would create a similar approach to address security needs and confront violence and intolerance against organizations whose membership is diverse and whose purpose is to serve our communities or to foster tolerance, respect and understanding in our Commonwealth. There would be grants to provide security improvements for facilities used by such organizations, as well as grants to create a dialogue leading to an atmosphere supportive of tolerance, respect and understanding.

Grants will be awarded by a board created through the legislation and housed in the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The program will be administered by that Agency. Initially ten million dollars would be appropriated for this program. Subsequent appropriations would be determined as part of the annual budget process.

Now is the time for us, as stewards of what the founders of Pennsylvania did in 1682, to pass legislation that clearly reasserts the founding principles of our Commonwealth; tolerance, respect and understanding and continue to be our shared fundamental values.

Please consider joining us in cosponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB676