Historic REIS Legislation Passed the House and Senate!!!

On  May 9, 2018, SB 256 cleared the House of Representatives.  This is historic-landmark legislation.  Public Act 18-78 makes Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements available to any legislator in any committee.  Connecticut is the first state to do so! A few bold people, organizations, and elected officials fought long and hard for this. 

We thank you!

On May 4, 2018, SB 256 passed the Senate with a 36-0 vote!

Last week Connecticut State Senator Gary Winfield led his colleagues to a 36-0 vote to pass SB 256.  This passage sets up Connecticut to make history.  To our knowledge, if passed in the House and signed by the governor, Connecticut would be the first state to have this powerful tool available to all legislators in all committees.  

We need you to do two things:

First, call and email:
Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, at 860-240-8500 – Joe.Aresimowicz@cga.ct.gov 
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, at 860-240-8585 –  Matthew.Ritter@cga.ct.gov
Ask them to commit to getting SB 256 a vote in the House.
Second, call or email your State Rep. and ask them to vote for SB 256 and make history! REIS is a powerful tool that will help them make more and better decisions on legislation impacting communities of color.
Simply ask them to make history. Remind them we have the largest educational achievement gaps in the country, deadly health disparities, and disparate incarceration rates that rival some of the worst in the country.

Find your State Rep. by clicking the Phone: 

Currently, the Connecticut General Assembly doesn’t have a tool that enables legislators or citizens to evaluate a proposed bill through the lens of racial equity.  In 2009 the legislature passed P.A. 08-143, this bill is too narrow and to our knowledge hasn’t been used more than once by the Judiciary Committee.  This is one of the reasons we are supporting the current efforts to pass a broad but forceful piece of legislation that makes Racial Ethnic Impact Statements (REIS) a permanent part of the legislative process in our state.

On Monday, March 5, 2018, at 11:00 am GAE committee hosted a public hearing on this very issue.  Last year a similar bill was introduced but only four organizations or individuals provided testimony in support.  This year 14 organizations or agencies submitted testimony supporting  S.B. 256.  Click here to view testimony from March 5, 2018.

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Why we need REIS:

  1. The courts don’t have the ability to protect Connecticut’s Black and Hispanic citizens from systemic disparate treatment.  The CCJEF school funding case is the primary example.  Courts are forced to base their decisions on the intent doctrine.  This colorblind doctrine allowed the Connecticut Supreme Court to dismiss over 5,000 exhibits, 2,000 fact admissions, 826 full exhibits, 50 witnesses, including nearly 20 education and financial experts, and 1,060 individual findings of fact that clearly defined disparate outcomes for multiple generations of Black and Hispanic students as useless byproducts of an adequately funded education systems.  Our state is the holder of a distinction unwanted by any other state.  That distinction is the state with the largest achievement gaps.
  2. Our criminal justice systems (adult and juvenile) has incarcerated Black and Hispanic residents at much greater rates than their white peers.  In Connecticut, Black residents are incarcerated at a rate 9 times greater than their white peers and Hispanic residents are incarcerated at a rate 3 times greater than their white peers.
  3. Going back 25 years Connecticut’s African American residents have suffered higher rates of death from stroke, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes than their white peers.
  4. Connecticut’s Dreamers and undocumented residents deserve to have the same considerations during the legislative process as everyone else, especially for wage theft and access to an affordable education.

There are many more reasons why we need an REIS.  Most importantly we need an REIS so that our elected officials can make informed decisions on legislation for all of Connecticut’s residents, especially Black and Hispanic citizens.

Contact us at rgoodrich@racce.net to have us come talk to your organization, community or neighborhood group, or any group of individuals interested in advocating for racial justice.

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