Harrisburg, PA − May 4, 2023 − On Tuesday, 2 May, 2023, Senators Vincent Hughes and Art Haywood took to the Senate floor to speak in opposition to a bill that would appoint a non-elected special prosecutor to incidents involving SEPTA transit jurisdiction; SB 140.
When speaking against SB 140, both Senators Hughes and Haywood asserted that this bill is a voter suppression attempt to circumvent the duly elected Philadelphia District Attorney and relinquish his responsibility to a state-appointed prosecutor. During both Senators’ floor speeches, they were interrupted and subsequently silenced, while attempting to deliver their message to the public.
“Voter suppression takes many forms, including taking away what the voters voted for. Here, that is exactly what is happening. The voters voted for DA Krasner to have full power over all prosecutions in the city of Philadelphia, and this legislation deprives him of that power over SEPTA,” said Senator Haywood. Voter suppression, Senator Haywood continues, “is not just a poll tax, it’s not just literacy tests, it’s not just voter ID, it’s not just gerrymandering; it’s taking away the power of people that they voted for.”
“We are not second-class citizens in the city of Philadelphia. Our right to vote for and elect who we want are just as equal and just as relevant as anyone else’s right in this Commonwealth,” said Senator Hughes. “When the power is stripped away from the Philadelphia district attorney to do their job, you essentially have stripped away the power of the voters who have done their job and elected who they want.“
“And make no mistake,” said Sen. Hughes. “What Sen. Haywood and I experienced yesterday on the floor of the Senate was a silencing from our Republican colleague. Our democracy and our freedoms rely on dialogue. When one side of an opinion is silenced, our democracy suffers.”
There is a growing trend in Pennsylvania and across the country to censor and silence voices speaking out against attempts to skirt the will of the people and the power of their vote. Senators Haywood, Hughes, and their colleagues in the PA Senate Democratic Caucus will fight to ensure this does not happen within the Commonwealth.
“Silencing lawmakers who look, love, and speak differently than you is a dangerous act of censorship that too many Republicans are embracing as
common practice,” said Senator Haywood. “We didn’t stand for it in Tennessee, we didn’t stand for it in Montana, and we certainly won’t stand for it in Pennsylvania. The will of the people will always prevail.”