Reparations Proposals OK’d by California Senate, Advance to California State Assembly 

Gavel with open book and scales on table

Gavel with open book and scales on table

By Kayla Garcia-Pebdani 

SACRAMENTO, CA—The California State Senate last week approved several reparation proposals for Black Californians, which have now advanced to the California State Assembly.

As reported by CapRadio, the several proposed pieces of legislation pushed forward by the California Senate include the eligibility for future restitution, aid for Black families to research their family lineage, a fund for reparation programs, and compensation to Black families for property the government had “unjustly seized from them using eminent domain.”

State Senator Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles), stated California “bears great responsibility” in addressing the grievances made by Black Californians, adding, “If you can inherit generational wealth, you can inherit generational debt. Reparations is a debt that’s owed to descendants of slavery,” said CapRadio.

The proposals are included in a slate of bills promoted by the recommendations made by California’s Black Reparations Task Force, which conducted a two-year study on how the state could address its history of racism and discrimination against the African-American community, the article asserts.

As stated in the CapRadio article, the U.S. Congress has a history of addressing reparations for African Americans—in the 1980s a bill was introduced to study reparations; however, it was stalled. Illinois and New York have also passed laws to study reparations, but California leads the way in addressing reparation proposals.

California State Senator Roger Niello (R-Sacramento) supports the bill in “principle,” reported CapRadio, noting Niello does not believe taxpayers across the state should pay families for land seized by local governments, stating, “That seems to me to be a bit of an injustice in the end of itself.”

Additionally, the State Assembly advanced a bill last week to formally apologize for its history of discrimination against Black Californians, CapRadio wrote, noting in 2019 Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a formal apology for California’s history of violence against Indigenous peoples.

Highlighted in the report, the current state’s budget deficit has spread concern regarding reparations, quoting Assemblymember Bill Essayli (R-Corona) stating, “It seems to me like they’re putting, number one, the cart before the horse… They’re setting up these agencies and frameworks to dispense reparations without actually passing any reparations.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee estimated it would cost the state up to $1 million annually to run the agency, but the committee did not include cost estimates for implementing the imminent domain and reparation fund bills, reported CapRadio, adding the committee said it would cost the state a significant amount of money to investigate claims made by families regarding land acquisition as the result of racial discrimination.

Chris Lodgson, an organizer for the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, was quoted by CapRadio stating these votes would be an essential “first step” towards passing additional reparation laws in California.

About The Author

Kayla Garcia-Pebdani is a fourth-year student at UC Davis, studying Political Science–Public Service with double minors in Human Rights and Professional Writing. She actively engages in social justice issues and advocacy through her roles as an intern for Article 26 Backpack, the Co-Lead for Students Demand Action at UC Davis, and her previous involvement with Catalyst California as a Government Relations Intern. Kayla hopes to further expand her knowledge and skills during her time with the Vanguard. Through her experiences, she aims to highlight injustices in everyday life and provide means for the public to stay aware and hopefully become inclined to get involved.

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