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.
Last Friday, February 23, 2018, the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) committee raised a bill concept that will make an REIS available to all legislative committees. This is a moment when we can band together and advocate for a legislative tool that places Racial Equity as the filter for any and all legislation in Connecticut.
On Monday, March 5, 2018, at 11:00 am GAE committee will host a public hearing on this very issue. Last year a similar bill was introduced but only four organizations or individuals provided testimony in support. We are asking agencies, organizations, and individuals who are fighting for racial equity to join us supporting S.B. 256. If you can’t attend send your letter of support to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday morning 9:00 am. Click here to view testimony from last year’s proposed bill.
Why we need REIS:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.