California Lawmakers Introduce More Than A Dozen Reparation Bills

The Reparation Priority Bill Package does not include cash payouts to Black residents across the board.

The California Legislative Black Caucus introduced more than a dozen reparation-related bills Wednesday, the day before the start of Black History Month.

The historic package of legislation follows the June 2023 release of a 500-page Reparations Task Force Report, which listed myriad recommendations to remedy generations of systemic harm against Black Californians, beginning during slavery.

None of the 14 bills includes cash payouts to Black residents across the board in the face of a projected state budget deficit of nearly $40 billion, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A 2023 poll by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, co-sponsored by the L.A. Times, found that the majority of California residents do not support reparations in the form of cash.

“We started realizing with the budget environment we were going to have to do more systemic policy change to address systemic racism versus big budget asks because there just wasn’t the budget for it,” state Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson (D) said, according to the L.A. Times. “Our priorities centered around policy changes or creating opportunities.”

The bills, known collectively as the 2024 CLBC Reparation Priority Bill Package, focus on improvements in education, health, business, prisons and civil rights. According to The Associated Press, several of the bills call for California’s Constitution to be changed, which will be a tough sell to some lawmakers.

The package also has its critics, who say the bills don’t go far enough.

“Not one person who is a descendant who is unhoused will be off the street from that list of proposals. Not one single mom who is struggling who is a descendant will be helped,” Chris Lodgson, an organizer with the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, said, according to The Associated Press. “Not one dime of the debt that’s owed is being repaid.”

According to a news release from the California Legislative Black Caucus, this set of bills starts off a “multi-year effort to implement the legislative recommendations in the report.”

“We will endeavor to right the wrongs committed against black communities through laws and policies designed to restrict and alienate African Americans. These atrocities are found in education, access to homeownership, and to capital for small business startups, all of which contributed to the denial of generational wealth over hundreds of years,” Assemblyman Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr. said in Wednesday’s news release.

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