Pa. urged to weigh 'minority impact' of some proposed laws
A State House proposal would require certain legislation to be judged in terms of its effect on different racial groups in Pennsylvania.
The plan is modeled on the "minority impact" statements that became law five years ago in Iowa.
It's based on the idea that minority impact is just as important as financial ramifications, according to Wayne Ford, a former Iowa lawmaker who sponsored that measure.
"When we do a fiscal statement or a correctional statement, we want to know how many people will get locked up if we build a prison, or how much money would this cost from a financial standpoint," said Ford. "These are things that we've been doing for years."
The push for a minority impact law in Iowa came after a 2007 report showing it had the most disproportionate incarceration rate of blacks compared with that of whites.
The same report shows Pennsylvania also has disproportionate rates of incarceration among Hispanics and blacks when compared with whites.
And the commonwealth's Hispanic rate is among the country's most disproportionate.
The Pennsylvania House proposal would require racial impact statements for any proposed legislation affecting criminal and sentencing laws.
Since 2008, Connecticut and Oregon have also added minority impact statements to their legislative process.