Reparations Package Clears Major Hurdle in California Senate

This week, a set of bills passed the state Senate, marking a significant advancement in the long-running drive by California lawmakers to provide reparations for Black citizens.

The three bills, which follow a two-year task force work to produce reparation proposals, would establish funding sources and agencies to start compensating Black Californians for decades of bigotry and discrimination.

State Senator Steven Bradford, a Democrat, wrote the three pieces of legislation. He claimed that California “bears great responsibility” for resolving issues such as enslavement, segregation, stigmatization, and discrimination against Black citizens in remarks made to lawmakers on Tuesday.

“These are not a handout or charity by any measure,” Bradford stated. “It is what was promised. It is what is owed and what is 160 years overdue.”

What is proposed by each bill?

In addition to compensating Black families and people whose property was taken by eminent domain, the legislation package would establish a fund for reparation programs and set up an organization to assist locals in researching their family history in order to seek for such restitution.

These are some of the most important and far-reaching of the 14 reparations measures that the Legislative Black Caucus of California is supporting.

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What the three bills suggest is as follows:

  • Establishing the Fund for Reparations and Restorative Justice: This fund would be established to support future policies and programs intended to compensate Black people who were the descendants of slaves or free Black people who were in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century. The fund would be funded with 6% of the state budget reserves.
  • Remuneration for land taken through eminent domain: This would give people a way to ask the government for compensation if their land was taken for racially motivated purposes. These applications would be subject to examination, investigation, and decision-making by the state’s Office of Legal Affairs.
  • Creation of an oversight organization: All departments, offices, and other organizations involved in reparations would be under the direction of the proposed California American Freedmen Affairs Agency. An Office of Legal Affairs and a Genealogy Office must be included, according to the bill.

The Assembly members who earlier this week passed a related bill that would formally apologize on behalf of California to the descendants of Black people who were slaves are now the recipients of the three bills. The state Senate will now consider that idea.

In its final report, which was released in June 2023, the task committee made over 100 policy recommendations. One is not covered by any of the bills that have been introduced; it is to give eligible residents direct cash payments.

The last few days for lawmakers to move bills out of their original chamber are this week. All laws must pass both houses by the end of August in order to reach the governor’s desk.


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