PA House Democrats approve legislation to increase nonprofit security grant program to $10 million
HARRISBURG -- United as a caucus, Pennsylvania House Democrats passed legislation this week to expand the state’s Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program. The increase in vital funding doubles the budgeted amount from $5 million to $10 million.
The House passed H.B. 1772, sponsored by Majority Appropriations Chairman Jordan Harris and co-sponsored by State Reps. Jared Solomon, Jason Dawkins, Ben Waxman, and Tarik Khan, on Oct. 31.
"In a diverse and inclusive society, every individual should feel safe and secure when they gather, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or gender,” said Harris. “House Bill 1772, which I sponsored, stands as a beacon of our commitment to protect the sanctity of these spaces. By increasing the Non-profit Security Grant Fund to $10 million, we affirm that no one should live in fear while gathering, and this legislation not only fortifies physical structures but also fosters a sense of belonging and harmony within our communities. Together, we stand united in our dedication to ensuring that these spaces remain sanctuaries of peace, love, and acceptance."
The program is designed to protect the safety and security of the users of facilities in Pennsylvania owned or operated by nonprofit organizations and primarily serves individuals, groups, or institutions identified by the FBI in its Hate Crime Statistics Publication. These categories include race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity. Eligible expenses include, but are not limited to, safety and security planning, purchase of safety and security equipment, purchase of security-related technology (metal detectors, protective lighting, deadbolts, etc.), safety and security training, upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security, and more.
"As antisemitism continues to rise and animus toward groups is felt daily, we need to protect faith-based institutions by investing in their physical security and mental well-being,” said Solomon. “Our bill does this work. Our founder -- William Penn -- held out the promise of embracing religious difference, and we help deliver on that promise with this legislation."
"As targeted hate crimes increase, it is our duty to ensure that all communities, regardless of their faith, feel secure in their places of worship,” said Dawkins. “House Bill 1772 is a testament to our commitment in safeguarding the sanctuaries where people gather to practice their beliefs. By increasing the Non-profit Security Grant Fund, we send a powerful message: everyone deserves to worship without fear, and their safety is of paramount importance."
"I was honored to join with Chairman Harris as well as the other members of the Philadelphia Delegation from impacted communities to co-sponsor this legislation,” said Waxman. “Together, we showed that we are united in offering support to every community impacted by hate crimes and global unrest."
“No one should feel afraid to attend a house of worship. We need to ensure our communities are kept safe, including our mosques, synagogues, and LGBTQ+ centers, said Khan. “I’m proud to have helped lead this bill, which demonstrates that we won’t stand by while acts of violence are committed in our most sacred spaces.”
More information about the program is available at https://www.pccd.pa.gov/schoolsafety/Pages/Non-Profit-Security-Grant-Fund.aspx.