The current social climate has been engulfed by the demands for equality within underserved communities, highlighting the brutality by police towards Black Americans. Additionally, there has been explicit evidence of racial inequities among healthcare and other fundamental resources within African American communities emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic. These concerns lied dormant until a multiple layered crisis exposed the tremendous threat the imbalances have on the livelihoods of all nationalities.
The California Legislative Black Caucus has a mission to “address legislative concerns of African Americans and other citizens of color.” They represent the black community in California, provide political influence, and create visibility within higher levels of government. Today there are 10 members and they look to serve as the “conscience of the legislative and ballot measures.” The benchmarks the CLBC look to push forward includes Healthcare Access, Housing, Public Safety, Social Justice, Economic Development, and Education. The goal through these measurements is to “promote racial and gender equality as well as justice for the poor and other disenfranchised groups.”
The CLBC has released their 2020 Legislative Agenda and there are two noted categories: Priority and Supported Bills. They cover economics, education, and social justice. Here is a summary of measurements proposed this year:
ACA 5 “ California Act for Economic Prosperity” or “Opportunity for all,” would remove Article l, Section 31 from the California Constitution; prohibiting the state to carry out any act of discrimination in the setting of public employment, public education, or public contracting agreements. There will be no tolerance for “preferential treatment” or blocked opportunity based off race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
ACA 6 “ Free to Vote” restores voting rights to people serving parole, this would affect a massive amount of Black Americans in California that are incarcerated and play a critical role in re-imagining the justice system that weighs heavily with in African American communities.
AB 3121 “Reparations Task Force” will create a body around the study and development of Reparation Proposals for Black Americans. The bill is set to provide an “in depth examination” of the impact of slavery within the state, in order to capture a sense of guidance on how to address the pockets of systemic racism within California.
Moving into the Supported Bills; these measurements include proposals for improved health and safety. SBB 144 would end the collection of administrative fees applied against people in the criminal justice system. This will dramatically reduce court ordered debt, the bill was created as a buffer against a part of the court system relying on the wealth “stripped” from underserved and low-income communities.
AB 1460 “Ethnic Studies” would provide opportunity for all California State Universities to have a required ethnic studies class to graduate.
AB 1835 “Local Control Funding Formula” identifies unspent capital resources within local educational agencies. By “annually reconciling the estimated amounts,” educational firms will have the opportunity to add that amount inclusive with the Local Control Accountability Plan and state funding appropriated to them.
AB 1950 modifies the state’s Penal Code, as the measurement of “Probation Reform,” misdemeanors will be reduced to a maximum of one year and two years for a felony case.
AB 1994 and AB 2019 focuses on Juvenile wellbeing after their time has been served, they would have uninterrupted health service and full access of Medi-Cal eligibility (1994). Additionally, youth within alternative and Juvenile court schools will have access to College and Career Pathway programs. (2019)
AB 2054 “C.R.I.S.E.S. Act” develops a community response to local emergencies, the pilot program “seeks to fill a void” within the current system that responds to the community concern within vulnerable populations.
Lastly, the AB 2405 proposal focuses the step beyond creating shelter and establishes housing for children and families in California, looking to be effective January 1, 2026. Within the “Justice Matters” Meeting held earlier this week, representatives from the Legislative Black Caucus emphasized measurements within this package.
As previously stated, a member of the Legislative Black Caucus Senator Holly Mitchell talked about the legislative package that is going forth. She emphasized ACA 6 bringing voting rights to those serving parole, ACA-5 affirmative action that will be beneficial economically to prioritize underserved communities, and AB 3121 that will cover the feasibility of reparations in California.
Through this proposed plan, the CLBC look to gain overwhelming improvement within the livelihoods of those who are easily forgotten in the voting rooms of Capitol Hill. With measurements pinpointing groups of people that have been severely hit by the social inequities, the 2020 legislative package has the ingredients to bring change among all underserved communities.