Sponsored bipartisan, nationally acclaimed Clean Slate Act | Helped form Pennsylvania’s Gun Violence Task Force | Organized gun buyback events to remove weapons from our streets | Helped bring back nearly $5 million in state funding for district improvements | Recipient of the 2019 Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life | Worked with Gov. Tom Wolf to enact “Ban the Box” | Fought “Stop and Go” nuisance bars in Philadelphia | Helped restore funding to Cheyney University | Worked to create after-school activities for Philadelphia youth
State Representative Jordan Harris was first elected to represent the 186th Legislative district, covering parts of South and Southwest Philadelphia, in 2012. Since then, he has quickly become a rising star in the state legislature fighting for progressive ideals including criminal justice reform and education reform. Most recently, Harris was elected by his fellow legislators to serve as the Democratic Whip in the state House, which is the second-highest position in the caucus behind only the Democratic leader. Harris is only the second African American in the history of the Pennsylvania legislature to rise to this level in House leadership.
A graduate of Bartram Motivation High School and then Millersville University, Harris previously served the people of Philadelphia as the Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Youth Commission. In this position, Harris advised the Mayor, City Council, and other advocates on issues relating to youth in Philadelphia. Harris initiated programs to help youth in Philadelphia find constructive activities and created a program to help high school students meet the credit requirements to graduate from high school.
In his time in the state House, Harris has championed progressive ideals that matter most to the people he represents. His accomplishments include:
As chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, Harris brought Governor Tom Wolf to Philadelphia to help address the gun violence epidemic plaguing our community. Harris was instrumental in having gun violence recognized as a public health crisis and worked tirelessly in securing a $60 million grant program from the state to help fight gun violence and increase community safety. Harris also played a key role in creating Pennsylvania’s Gun Violence Task Force to target gun traffickers and help get illegal guns off the street and out of our communities. Recently, Harris helped to bring a $2.5 million increase in the state budget to fund the Gun Violence Task Force and help empower them to make our neighborhoods safer.
Harris has quickly become a nationally known figure in the fight to reform Pennsylvania’s broken criminal justice system. Working in a bipartisan fashion, Harris sponsored legislation that created Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Act, a first-of-its-kind law that is automatically sealing up to 30 million low-level criminal records in Pennsylvania. This will allow formally incarcerated individuals who have served their time and stayed out of trouble the ability to access employment, housing, and educational opportunities they previously wouldn’t have been afforded. Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Act has been heralded as a national model for Clean Slate legislation and has been taken up by other states as well as having legislation drawn up at the federal level to make a national Clean Slate program.
Harris previously worked with Governor Tom Wolf to enact a ‘Ban the Box’ policy that removes questions from state employment applications asking if a potential employee has a criminal record. Policies such as Clean Slate and ‘Ban the Box’ help lift individuals out of poverty and create generational change for families. Harris is continuing his fight to reform Pennsylvania’s broken criminal justice system by currently pushing for bipartisan probation reform to help lift people out of the quicksand of the probation system and become contributing members of their community again. Harris has also sponsored legislation to reform Pennsylvania’s occupational licensure system to give formally incarcerated individuals better access to professional licenses. After passing the House, that legislation is currently awaiting action in the state Senate and would further empower individuals to access employment opportunities and start their own career.
Harris has consistently fought to improve educational opportunities for underserved communities by fighting for increased education funding and allowing young people the opportunity to receive the best education possible. In addition to voting for increased public education funding, Harris has sponsored the Pennsylvania Promise legislation. The Pennsylvania Promise would give families the opportunity to receive grants to help fund their quest for a higher education degree. Harris believes that education is the elevator out of poverty, but for too many Pennsylvanian families that elevator has been broken. The rising cost of higher education is a barrier for far too many families, and the Pennsylvania Promise would make a higher education degree more attainable and allow families to better themselves and achieve the education they deserve.
Believing in the power of our community to create a positive environment to thrive in, Harris has been instrumental in bringing in nearly $5 million in state funding to empower the 186th District. Harris has fought for multiple state grants, including:
- Funding to help build the Schuylkill River Trail, which will connect neighborhoods and give residents access to traverse the city safely.
- Funding to create a community garden and refurbish a neighborhood playground.
- Funding to revitalize run-down buildings into mixed-use commercial and residential space.
- Funding to refurbish a community senior center.
- Funding to empower a local public school to purchase a new cooler.
- Funding to help low-income families provide affordable housing to the community.
Harris has also received numerous public awards for his work fighting for the people of Philadelphia, including:
2011 Philadelphia Tribune Magazine’s “10 People Under 40 to Watch.”
2017 Talk Magazine’s Most Influential People in PA.
2017 Odunde365’s Community Service Award for Positively Impacting Lives.
2017 Philadelphia Magazine’s Most Influential People in Philadelphia.
2019 Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life.
Outside of his work as a state representative, Harris is currently a member of the Council of Trustees at Millersville University, a member of the Board of the Hardy Williams Education Fund, a member of the Christian Street YMCA, a member of the Knight Foundation, a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, a member of Masons Cephas Lodge #98, and the President of the Board of Directors at the Lincoln Day Educational Center, the oldest continuously operating African American Day School in the country.