On Wednesday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee, partially swayed by the recent death of Floyd George and subsequent nationwide protests, passed two bills that could possibly bring back affirmative action to California and may institute slavery reparations for African Americans.
ACA 5 and AB 3121
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, written by Assemblywoman Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) would overturn Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action policies in California in 1996. Affirmative action, which factors in race and gender for public university admissions and state employment, has not been challenged in California since 2014.
Assembly Bill 3121, also written by Assemblywoman Weber, set up a Task Force to compile documentation of the institution of slavery in the United States and then issue recommendations on reparations. Reparations to African Americans in California, if accepted, would most likely come in the form of cash.
Both ACA 5 and AB 3121, previously considered long shots, were boosted in support in the last two weeks by public outcry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the numerous protests that followed. Some of the largest protests in the United States took place in Californian cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland, strengthening their presence in many districts.
A Tuesday news conference by members of the Black Caucus asked for support of both bills in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, noting instances of racism in California and subsequent “fixes” that aren’t permanent.
“Every incident brings me back to the same spot,” said Assemblywoman and Black Caucus Chairwoman Shirley Weber on Tuesday. “This country has taught itself to hate African Americans and to deny the history that has brought us here.”
Public outcry of George Floyd helps convince Assemblymembers to vote for ACA 5 and AB 3121
The effect was readily seen in voting on Wednesday with ACA 5 passing 11 to 5 with 2 abstentions and AB 3121 passing 13 to 4 with 1 abstention. In at least a few cases, the actions during the last ten days had a direct result in voting on Wednesday.
“I don’t have exact numbers of how many votes were swayed by the protests, but I do know of at least 2 in the Assembly on the Appropriations Committee who were more or less on the fence about these a few weeks ago,” said “Dana,” who works at the State Capitol. “There were a few who were leaning that way or were not planning on abstaining, but then came George Floyd.”
“We’ve all seen the video and the nearly two weeks now of rage over this. There was no way some of them could vote otherwise. Not in this climate, not against issues like that, and not in an election year.”
“Honestly, considering the make up of some of these districts, I was surprised that there weren’t more votes in favor, but then again party lines were pretty solid. All I know is that some of the votes could have gone a different way before this.”
Both bills will now go to a full Assembly vote later this month.
ACA 5 will need two thirds of votes from both the Assembly and Senate by the end of the month. If signed by Governor Newsom, ACA 5 would then be put on a ballot for majority voter approval.
AB 3121 will only need the usual votes and Governor signing for approval. If approved, the subsequent task force will only give recommendations of reparations to the Assembly and Senate.