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Track the Success of California's 14 Reparations Bills for Black Residents

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A group of men and women pose for a photo onstage.
From left, state Sen. Steven Bradford, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, task force member Lisa Holder and Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer hold up a final report of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans during a hearing in Sacramento on June 29, 2023. (Haven Daley/AP)

The California Legislative Black Caucus is prioritizing 14 reparations bills, which the group hopes to pass this year. CLBC members curated the list to test the limits of the Legislature’s commitment to racial justice while seeking to avoid a wholesale rejection that could derail the quest for reparations.

“We are aware that everyone in the state is watching us, but also everyone in this nation, but also in this world,” Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego) said.

The bills are drawn from two years of work by the California Reparations Task Force, which KQED has reported on since its inception. The task force’s final report, published in June 2023, includes over 100 policy proposals, as well as a plan to provide direct cash payments to eligible residents. None of the introduced bills include cash payments.

Passing bills with hefty price tags will be challenging because California’s deficit could exceed $70 billion. Even if cash payments weren’t controversial, a plan to pay out millions of dollars to residents would likely face intense opposition in the Legislature.

The CLBC’s 12 members each submitted ideas for reparations bills to the caucus, which then voted on the bills to prioritize. The 14 listed below won support from two-thirds of caucus members.

The fate of the first-in-the-nation effort for state-level reparations will play out over the next five months in Sacramento. Legislators face an Aug. 31 deadline to pass bills on to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Success on Aug. 31, at the end of session, looks like our priority package is across the line, plus a few more,” Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) said.

Below are the details of each bill under consideration by the Legislature. Bookmark this page and check back as we track each bill’s fate.

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Assembly Constitutional Amendment 7: Allow the state to fund race-based programs.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8: Ban involuntary servitude in state prisons.

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 135: Acknowledge the residual impact of slavery in California.

Assembly Bill 280: Limit solitary confinement in state prisons.

Assembly Bill 1815: Prohibit discrimination based on hair texture and style.

Assembly Bill 1929: Allow deeper analysis of technical education grants.

Assembly Bill 1975: Require Medi-Cal to broaden food and nutrition coverage.

Assembly Bill 1986: Limit book bans in state prisons.

Assembly Bill 2064: Create grant program to decrease violence.

Assembly Bill 2862: Require licensing boards to prioritize Black applicants.

Assembly Bill 3089: Formal apology for slavery and systemic discrimination.

Assembly Bill 3131: Target economic support to formerly redlined communities.

Senate Bill 1050: Compensation for land taken by eminent domain. 

Senate Bill 1089: Require advance notice for grocery and pharmacy closures.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 7

Author: Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Riverside)

What it would do: Allow the state to fund programs designed to improve the health, education or economic well-being of “specific groups based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin or marginalized genders or sexual orientations.” It would amend Proposition 209, the state’s ban on affirmative action in government policy.

Several red and white signs shown from a distance with many people standing in front of City Hall in Oakland
Educators, parents and youth gather in protest during a citywide rally at Oakland City Hall on Feb. 4, 2022. (Amaya Edwards/KQED)

Why is this reparations? Much of the state’s proposed reparations plan hinges on this passing. Without amending Proposition 209, lawmakers cannot pass policies to specifically benefit the state’s Black residents. At a meeting of the reparations task force last year, member Donald Tamaki argued that to assist people harmed by racial discrimination, reparations policies must target support to people based on their racial identity.

Catch up quickly: California voters passed Proposition 209, the nation’s first ban on affirmative action, in 1996 during a wave of anti-affirmative action activism. That was 28 years ago. In 2020, an attempt to repeal the law was rejected by 57% of voters. ACA 7 is not a full-scale repeal, and legislators might be hoping this pared-down proposal is more appealing to voters.

The latest: ACA 7 is a two year-bill. In September, it passed the Assembly in a vote along party lines with all Republicans opposed. The bill is now awaiting referral to committee in the Senate.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8

Author: Assemblymember Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City)

What it would do: Remove language from the state’s constitution allowing involuntary servitude “as punishment to a crime.”

A woman wearing glasses and a yellow dress stands outside.
Assemblymember Lori D. Wilson, the author of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Why is this reparations? Black residents, who make up just 5% of California’s population, account for 28% of the state’s prison population. Incarcerated people are paid as little as $0.08 an hour and face punishment for not completing work. “That is where you see it currently, with people being forced to work no matter what and to work without any sense of compensation,” Wilson said.

Catch up quickly: In 2022, a similar proposal was voted down, in part, over concerns that the end of involuntary servitude would require wage increases for prison labor, adding significant costs to the state prison system, according to analysts with the state Department of Finance.

The latest: ACA 8 passed the Assembly on a bipartisan vote in September. Four Republicans voted against the bill, and eight other GOP members did not vote. The bill is now pending in the state Senate.

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 135

Author: Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego)

What it would do: Acknowledge the actions of government officials in California who advanced chattel slavery and subsequent discriminatory policies against Black Californians.

Bakari Olatunji, Western Regional Party Representative of the African People’s Socialist Party, speaks during a rally for reparations for African people in Oakland on Oct. 16, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Why is this reparations? Weber said the process of providing reparations must begin with an acknowledgment and an honest reckoning of the harms perpetrated by California’s government. The transgressions pre-date California’s statehood, when Southern-born lawmakers played an outsized role in shaping the state’s pro-slavery stance — and even owned slaves. “This is the foundation upon which we will build for this year and years to come,” Weber said.

Catch up quickly: ACR 135 sailed through the state Assembly, though not without some controversy. In the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach) said that California “can be proud” of its progress in achieving racial justice in the last 75 years, which Weber and others characterized as dismissive of discriminatory policies enacted in recent decades.

The latest: ACR 135 passed the state Assembly on a 59–0 vote and now heads to the state Senate.

Assembly Bill 280

Author: Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena)

What it would do: Limit the use of solitary confinement in state prisons.

A prison guard in uniform stands in front of a gate with a building in the background.
The entry gate at San Quentin State Prison on July 26, 2023. (Semantha Norris/CalMatters)

Why is this reparations? Black men make up 28% of the state’s prison population and 18.5% of the population in restricted housing. Meanwhile, Black women account for 25.4% of the prison population, and four out of five women in restricted housing are Black, according to a 2022 report by the Correctional Leaders Association and the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law at Yale Law School.

Catch up quickly: Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a similar proposal in 2022, arguing that the bill’s exclusion of certain groups from segregated housing — such as inmates younger than 26 or older than 59 — was too broad. After vetoing the bill, Newsom ordered state prison officials to “develop regulations that would restrict the use of segregated confinement except in limited situations, such as where the individual has been found to have engaged in violence in the prison.”

The latest: AB 280 is pending in the state Assembly.

Assembly Bill 1815

Author: Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego)

What it would do: Prohibit discrimination based on hair texture or hairstyles like braids, locks and twists. When introduced, the bill focused on preventing discrimination in amateur sports leagues and later broadened.

Why is this reparations?: According to a 2023 study by Dove, Black women with coily or textured hair are twice as likely to experience microaggressions at work compared to those with straight hair. Up until 2017, the U.S. military did not allow men to wear their hair in dreadlocks, and Black women were required to straighten their hair or wear wigs to comply with military regulations.

Catch up quickly: This would expand the 2019 California CROWN Act, which outlawed discrimination based on hairstyle in schools and workplaces. The law is part of a nationwide CROWN Act campaign to protect and celebrate natural Black hairstyles.

The bill was amended on March 21 to remove the focus on amateur sports leagues and instead changed the definition of “race” used in state civil rights laws to include characteristics associated with race, such as hair textures and stylings.

In arguing support of the bill in the Assembly Judiciary on April 2, Weber pointed to cases of hair-based discrimination in New Jersey and North Carolina. “Our hair is a symbol of who we are,” she said. “These cases around the country are exactly why the California Reparations Task Force made this expansion one of their policy recommendations to the legislature.”

AB 1815 passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee with unanimous support on April 24. The bill passed the Assembly in a 71-0 vote on May 2. It unanimously passed the Senate Judicial Committee with minor amendments on June 4.

The latest: A hearing is set for the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 17. 

Assembly Bill 1929

Author: Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D-Inglewood)

What it would do: Require data about recipients of state technical education grants to be disaggregated by race.

Why is this reparations? The reparations task force’s report cites research from the Center for American Progress that found “students of color still face disparities in access to and participation in high-quality [Career Technical Education] programs.”

Catch up quickly: This bill was significantly watered down ahead of a hearing in the Assembly Education Committee. AB 1929 initially would have moved the state toward creating a competitive grant program to increase the enrollment of descendants of slavery in STEM-related career technical education programs. Now it sets a less ambitious goal: allowing the state to get race-specific data on existing workforce development programs. A McKinnor spokesperson said the initial language was only a placeholder, known as a spot bill.

The latest: AB 1929 passed the Assembly on a 65-0 vote on April 9 and now heads to the state Senate.

Assembly Bill 1975

Author: Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland)

What it would do: Require Medi-Cal, the state’s public health insurance plan, to cover culturally relevant and medically supportive foods or nutrition interventions when deemed necessary by a healthcare provider.

A woman in a blue and white short-sleeved shirt smiling and looking to the left of the camera
Assemblymember Mia Bonta, who authored Assembly Bill 1975. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Why is this reparations? According to a 2021 study by UCLA, nearly four in 10 adult Californians don’t have consistent access to sufficient food. Access to enough healthy food is essential to treat and prevent chronic illness, which disproportionately impacts people of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black Americans and Native Americans are more likely than all other racial groups to experience diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Catch up quickly: Medi-Cal is in the midst of a five-year revamp. It’s been piloting food and nutrition interventions over the last two years which have been popular. According to Bonta’s office, as of July 2023, over 26,000 Californians had used the benefit to access healthy foods. The bill passed the Assembly Health Committee on April 16 in a 14-1 vote. It passed out of the Assembly on May 21 with a 64-0 vote. 

The latest: The Senate Health Committee heard AB 1975 on June 5. Amendments were made requiring the bill only be implemented if funding is provided in the state budget. The bill is set for a second reading on June 12. 

Assembly Bill 1986

Author: Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles)

What it would do: Require the list of books banned inside California prisons to be publicly displayed, and task the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Office of the Inspector General to remove book bans if they don’t further the interest of managing the prisons.

Why is this reparations? The task force report argues that “states and local governments have engaged in racist censorship of books written by African American authors, primarily in public schools and in prisons,” and recommended examining whether books featuring stories about Black people and their ancestors should be removed from the list of banned books in state prisons.

Catch up quickly: PEN America researched book bans in prisons across America and found that in California, page numbers are listed to justify a decision to censor books without any further information.

The latest: AB 1986 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Public Safety Committee on May 28.

Assembly Bill 2064

Author: Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles)

What it would do: Take money saved from closing state prisons and redirect it to community-based violence prevention programs via a state grant program. When introduced, the bill set out to create a grant program to decrease violence in Black communities.

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) on Political Breakdown on Sept. 7, 2023 in Sacramento. (Guy Marzorati/KQED)

Why is this reparations? In 2022, Black Californians accounted for 31% of the state’s homicide victims, according to a report from the California Department of Justice. The task force report notes “programs that promote socialization, emotional regulation techniques and social and cultural competence in early-school-age children have been shown to reduce violence among youth.”

Catch up quickly: AB2061 was amended in March to remove language that specified grants be targeted toward Black communities. The bill now directs the state to use a competitive application process to select community-based organizations doing violence prevention work, like operating afterschool programs and school-based health clinics, to receive funds.

AB 2064 passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee with a 7-1 vote on April 9, and the Assembly Committee on Health with a 15-1 vote on April 23.

The bill passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee with a 11-4 vote on May 16 after being amended to remove a provision that automatically transferred prison closure savings to the grant program. Instead, the transfer requires annual legislative approval.

AB 2064 passed out of the Assembly on a 55-7 vote on May 21. 

The latest: AB 2064 is awaiting hearings in the Senate’s Public Safety Committee and Committee on Health.

Assembly Bill 2862

Author: Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson)

What it would do: Require licensing boards, which oversee state workforces such as barbers and real estate agents, to prioritize African American applicants, especially those who are descendants of people enslaved in the United States. In April, the bill was amended to sunset after four years.

Why is this reparations? Prioritizing Black Californians in the state licensing process, supporters of AB 2862 contend, is a way of promoting economic advancement and closing the income gap between Black and white Californians.

Catch up quickly: The income gap is the “piece of evidence that serves as proof of the long-standing consequences of slavery,” Gipson said. “It is imperative that we take further measures to address the inequalities and expand the opportunities for growth and professional development.”

The context: Conservative legal groups have opposed the legislation, arguing that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. But supporters maintain that leveling the economic playing field is an important component of reversing historic discrimination against Black Californians in job access. Supporters have also noted that California lawmakers have previously given priority in licensing to military veterans.

The latest: AB 2862 passed the Assembly on a 56-1 vote and now heads to the state Senate. Assemblymember Kate Sanchez (R-Rancho Santa Margarita) was the lone no vote, while another Republican, Assemblymember Heath Flora (R-Modesto) joined dozens of Democrats to support the bill. Speaking before the vote, Gipson described the bill as “a measure that will help bring parity to our communities that have been left behind.”    

Assembly Bill 3089

Author: Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles)

What it would do: Issue a formal apology for state officials and institutions “who promoted, facilitated, enforced and permitted the institution of chattel slavery” and the systemic discrimination against Black Californians in the decades that followed.

Why is this reparations?: Jones-Sawyer, a member of the reparations task force, said the first steps of reparations must be acknowledging the harms committed by the state and recognizing them with an apology. “America’s original sin is the genocide and enslavement of human beings,” he said. “America’s second greatest sin is watching it happen and pretending that it never did.”

Catch up quickly: In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a formal apology to Native Americans in the state for a history of “violence, mistreatment and neglect.” That apology was issued by executive order, whereas AB 3089 requires a vote of the Legislature before Newsom can weigh in.

The latest: The state Assembly passed AB 3089 on May 16, marking a key milestone in the first-in-the-nation effort to provide state-level reparations to Black Californians. The bill now heads to the state Senate. 

Assembly Bill 3131

Author: Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento)

What it would do: Give schools that qualify for the state Board of Education’s local control funding formula equity multiplier “positive consideration” for state grants supporting career technical education. When introduced, this bill gave programs based in historically redlined communities first priority for career education grants.  

Why is this reparations? Redlining — the practice of denying home loans to credit-worthy candidates who lived in predominantly nonwhite neighborhoods — was common in California cities until the federal Fair Housing Act outlawed it in 1968. Redlining denied generations of Black residents the ability to own homes and accrue wealth, contributing to wealth disparities that persist today. A 2019 study from UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute found that predominantly white neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area have more than double the average household income and home values of predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods.

Catch up quickly: This bill was one of a handful under consideration by the Legislature that would target economic support to formerly redlined communities. It was amended on April 1 and watered down. Instead of giving residents in formerly redlined communities “first priority” for grant programs, it proposed giving them “positive consideration.”

The bill passed the Education Committee on April 10 with a unanimous vote. “Investment into high quality CTE programs that combine academic education with occupational training offer essential tools against persistent inequities,” Troy Williams, chief impact officer for the Greater Sacramento Urban League, said in his testimony in support. “This bill will help break down those barriers to educational access and create pathways for economic mobility for underserved populations.”

The bill was amended again on April 15 to additionally give schools that qualify for the Board of Education’s local control funding formula equity multiplier positive consideration for state career technical education grants. The LCFF equity multiplier is a classification the board uses to identify schools that serve socio-economically disadvantaged students. 

AB 3131 was amended to remove all mention of historically redlined communities and passed the Assembly Committee on Higher Education with unanimous support on April 24. The bill now only gives positive consideration to programs based at schools that currently qualify for the LCFF equity multiplier.

AB 3131 passed the Assembly with a 72-0 vote on May 23, with eight members not voting. The bill now heads to the state Senate.

The latest: AB3131 is set for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on June 19.

Senate Bill 1050

Author: Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena)

What it would do: Review, investigate and “make certain determinations” on applications from California residents who claim their land was taken through racially motivated use of eminent domain without being provided fair compensation.

An older man is leaning over a podium as he is speaking to a young woman with long braids. They both wear business attire and have a projection screen behind them.
Sen. Steven Bradford and Lisa Holder speak during the second day of an in-person meeting of the California Reparations Task Force at the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco on April 14, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Why is this reparations? Between 1949 and 1973, Black Americans were five times more likely than white Americans to be displaced by government use of eminent domain. In the Bay Area, the Fillmore, Russell City and West Oakland were impacted by the practice. According to research by the reparations task force, displaced families and businesses often said the money the government provided for the land was below market rate and insufficient for relocation.

Catch up quickly: SB 1050 is dependent on two bills — SB 1403 and SB 1331 — passing. The two bills would create a new government agency to manage reparations programs for eligible Black Californians and a state reparations fund to support its work. SB 1050 would instruct the agency’s Office of Legal Affairs to review claims, make payments to eligible families and provide public education about the unjust use of eminent domain throughout the state. Initially, the bill required the state to review its own history of taking land and locate victims to provide compensation. The bill was amended on April 3 to put the onus on the individuals to apply to the state for compensation.

SB 1050 passed the Judiciary Committee on April 16 with a 8-1 vote. It now heads to the Appropriations Committee. Sen. Roger Niello (R-Roseville) voted no. He argued local jurisdictions that used eminent domain in racist ways should be responsible for providing compensation, not state taxpayers. “Manhattan Beach was responsible for what happened, not Modoc County,” he said, referring to Bruce’s Beach. In response, Bradford implied the state review process might require local jurisdictions to provide compensation as well. “This obligation doesn’t fall on the state in of itself. Local jurisdictions will be responsible if they played a direct role,” he said.

The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee with unanimous support on May 13 and was placed on the committee’s “suspense file.” It passed out of the “suspense file” with a 5-2 vote along party lines — Republicans voted against the bill — on May 16.

SB 1050 passed the state Senate on May 21 with a 32-4 vote. Brian Jones (R-San Diego), Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach), Roger Niello (R-Roseville) and Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta) voted against the bill.

The latest: SB 1050 is set for a hearing on June 11 in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 1089

Author: Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Los Angeles)

What it would do: Require companies to provide advance notice to employees and county officials if a grocery store or pharmacy is closing and obligate counties to track closures.

Senate Bill 1089 would require companies to provide advance notice to employees and county officials if a grocery store or pharmacy is closing. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Why is this reparations? According to the bill authors, predominantly white neighborhoods have four times as many grocery stores as predominantly Black neighborhoods. Task force members said the lack of grocery stores in predominantly Black neighborhoods compared to predominantly white neighborhoods is a clear case of food injustice. Advanced notice of pharmacy closures will allow residents to make adjustments to avoid interruptions in access to medications.

“When you close a store, when you close the ability for people to go in and shop healthily and shop in an empowered way, you reduce their ability to be able to live,” Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) said. “It’s that plain and simple.”

Catch up quickly: The bill began as what’s called an “intent bill” or “spot bill,” meaning it was a placeholder Smallwood-Cuevas intended to flesh out through amendments. The text of the bill was added via an amendment on March 18. The bill passed the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee with a unanimous vote on April 17, and the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 23. 

SB 1089 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 6 with a unanimous vote. It passed out of the committee’s “suspense file” with a 5-2 vote along party lines on May 16. It passed the  Senate with a 29-9 vote.

The latest: The bill is awaiting a hearing date in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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