Abney introduces bills to help small businesses and streamline criminal justice data collection

HARRISBURG, March 30 – Rep. Aerion A. Abney, D-Allegheny, introduced two bills today which would help small businesses find their footing and establish a central collection of data for defendants in the state justice system.

A modernization and recapitalization of the Small Business Incubators Act, House Bill 744, formerly HB 2839, would provide up to $20 million in grants and loans for small businesses in Pennsylvania. These funds could be used to cover startup and overhead costs.

Workers and investments also would be protected in Abney’s bill because grant recipients who leave the commonwealth would be required to repay those funds awarded to them in full.

“Successful, local businesses help grow our economy and create good jobs everywhere,” Abney said. “A financial jumpstart to help them get established should encourage entrepreneurship."

House Bill 743, formerly HB 2760, would require the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, in collaboration with our courts, police departments and other criminal justice agencies, to collect, record and analyze data related to the experiences of defendants within the justice system. This data would then be compiled and reported to the General Assembly and be made available to the public.

New Jersey enacted a similar law three years ago, and other states have introduced similar proposals as well.

“It’s Pennsylvania’s turn to do everything in our power to improve our criminal justice system by taking a hard look at each point of contact a person has with it and making sure they receive fair treatment,” Abney said.