Today's Law As Amended

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SB-17 Office of Racial Equity.(2021-2022)

As Amends the Law Today

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Even as it represents perhaps the most successful project of modern democracy, the United States Constitution was itself also an instrument of a racist society that embedded inequality, violence, and trauma into our nation’s founding document. The “Three-Fifths Compromise,” an agreement by delegates to the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention that would count three-fifths of each state’s slave population for the purpose of apportioning United States House of Representatives seats, is the clearest expression of the Constitution’s structural racism. It is an ugly stain that continues to haunt our nation and that we must confront and actively dismantle.
(b) As the United States reckons with this shameful history, California also must confront its record of creating, upholding, or exacerbating racial inequalities and violence against Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) through the state’s laws, policies, and actions, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Even before officially becoming a state, the Spanish missionaries seized land from Native Californians and forced conversions to Christianity and European traditions. Moreover, the missionaries brought disease that killed many thousands of Native Californians.
(2) The decades after California became a state in 1850 were marked by violence towards and exploitation of Native Californian communities. In 1850, the state passed an Act for the Government and Protection of Indians, which allowed White Californians to forcibly remove Native Californians from their lands and into indentured servitude. California’s first Governor after becoming a state, Governor Peter Burnett, said in his 1851 address to the Legislature: “That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct must be expected.” Accordingly, Governor Burnett and other state leaders called for and subsidized militia campaigns against Native Californians, and generally propelled a dispossession and genocide of Native Californians.
(3) Even though California was ostensibly founded as a free state, there were efforts by California’s leaders before and after its founding to formally ban Black people from moving to or living in the state. Furthermore, even though California’s Constitution banned slavery, in 1852, California passed its own Fugitive Slave Law, which declared that any Black person who came to California as an enslaved person prior to California becoming a state was, nonetheless, to be considered the legal property of the slaveholder. The Fugitive Slave Law, which led to the forced deportation and return to enslavement of Black Californians, was even upheld as constitutional by California’s pro-slavery Supreme Court.
(4) In 1913, California passed the Alien Land Law, which restricted “aliens ineligible from citizenship,” including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean immigrants, from owning, leasing, or cultivating land, with the intention of discouraging further immigration from Japan in particular. In subsequent years, the state made the law even more restrictive, including by banning even American-born children of Asian immigrants from owning or leasing land. It was not until 1952 that the laws were struck down by the California Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
(5) California has a long history of both de jure and de facto discrimination in housing. In the first half of the twentieth century, the state government took a hands-off approach to housing policy and did not intervene to stop local governments or entities throughout the state from adopting restrictive covenants, redlining, or other measures to segregate housing. It was not until 1963 that the state passed the Rumford Fair Housing Act. Even then, however, California voters passed Proposition 14 in 1964 by more than a two-to-one margin to repeal the Rumford Act. Property owners in California were allowed to freely discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity until the California Supreme Court struck down Proposition 14 in 1966.
(6) Starting in 1929, California began a program to deport persons of Mexican ancestry from the state on a mass scale. In the end, approximately 400,000 American citizens and legal residents of Mexican ancestry living in California were forced to leave the state and go to Mexico. Throughout the state, there were raids of Mexican-American communities, resulting in the covert deportation of thousands of people, many of whom were never able to return.
(7) In 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066, under which the United States forced more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry into 10 concentration camps, including 2 in California. At the time, California’s leaders both supported and facilitated the internment of thousands of Californians of Japanese ancestry. The Legislature also passed discriminatory measures against Californians of Japanese ancestry, including a resolution calling on Congress to identify individuals holding dual citizenship in the United States and Japan, force them to forfeit their citizenship, and prevent them from becoming American citizens.
(8) California’s vast highway system was often built to break up BIPOC communities within cities, forcing the destruction of homes and displacing residents. For example, in 1963, the Santa Monica Freeway in the City of Los Angeles was built right through the center of the Sugar Hill neighborhood, destroying dozens of mansions owned by African Americans in what had been a thriving, predominantly Black community. The neighborhood was broken up, and Black residents were forced out.
(9) Under former Governor Pete Wilson’s tenure, California passed several measures that contributed to, or otherwise furthered, racial inequities, including the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994, Proposition 209 in 1996, and Proposition 227 in 1998. Proposition 187, which Governor Wilson thoroughly supported, would have excluded undocumented immigrants from all public services before it was struck down as unconstitutional in 1997. With Proposition 209, California became the first state to pass a formal ban on affirmative action. Proposition 227, which Governor Wilson also embraced, essentially required English-only education.
(10) California’s prison and jail incarceration rates have grown exponentially since the 1970s. BIPOC Californians are overrepresented in the state’s prison system and jails, due to discriminatory state policies and practices, including in policing, convicting, and sentencing. One such policy that exacerbated the racial inequities in the prison system is the Three Strikes sentencing law, which was enacted in 1994, and was considered one of the harshest sentencing laws in the country. Under the law, thousands of Californians, and in particular Black Californians, have been sentenced to life in prison for only minor crimes, including petty theft, due to their prior felony record.
(c) Government policies and institutional practices have marginalized, disenfranchised, stripped resources and power from, targeted, and otherwise brought violence on BIPOC Californians. To the present day, government actions have created, failed to address, or exacerbated racial inequities and disparities in terms of housing, public health, economic, educational, employment, carceral, and environmental conditions. These disparities are manifest in, though not limited to, the following ongoing, harmful social practices and disparate outcomes:
(1) The persistent legacy of discrimination in housing, through practices such as redlining, which have prevented BIPOC communities from building intergenerational wealth or accessing living standards available to White communities. In September 2020, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve found that, while White families have a median wealth of $188,200, Black and Hispanic families have a median wealth of only $24,100 and $36,100, respectively.
(2) The development of highways in California which have repeatedly divided and destroyed communities and housing in BIPOC communities.
(3) The concentration of polluting facilities in BIPOC communities, which constitute a public health threat to BIPOC communities by threatening air quality and water quality and contribute to chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, deteriorated brain health, including in children, and increased hospital visits, missed school days, and premature deaths. BIPOC Californians are therefore more likely to live near sources of pollution, breathe polluted air, and be impacted disproportionately by the effects of air pollution and climate change. In California, Black and Native American individuals have a significantly higher prevalence of asthma and are more likely to experience an avoidable hospitalization due to asthma.
(4) The concentration of poverty in BIPOC communities, which is the single largest social determination of public health and a significant contributing factor to the development of coincident socioeconomic burdens such as unemployment, social exclusion, lack of education, and low income, and thereby linked to chronic physical, mental, and public health challenges such as stress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Children who grow up in poverty, and especially those who are BIPOC, are more likely to experience food insecurity and malnutrition, face health-harming environmental exposures, including elevated blood lead levels, and increased adverse childhood experiences.
(5) The lack of access to quality health care in BIPOC communities, which is apparent in alarming disparities such as the experience of Black mothers, who are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women. These disparities persist in spite of income differences and result from health care providers dismissing symptoms raised by Black women or perpetuating racist assumptions about pain thresholds experienced by Black people, as well as the lived experiences of racism and discrimination in all other facets of society.
(6) Black trans women suffer from employment, housing, and educational discrimination and police brutality that result in the most acute health disparities. In recent years, the federal government took action to encourage homeless shelters, social services, educational institutions, and health care providers to discriminate against transgender people and overlook the deleterious impacts of racism. These and other government policies, among other oppressive systems targeting Black trans women, have actively prevented Black trans women from accessing services critical to achieving optimal health.
(7) On an individual physiological level, studies show that chronic stress from individual and systemic acts of racism and discrimination trigger high blood pressure, heart disease, immunodeficiency, and result in accelerated aging. The lived experiences of racism and discrimination, both explicitly and implicitly expressed, and across all facets of society, and not only those discussed in the aforementioned examples, contribute to alarmingly disparate health and quality of life outcomes in BIPOC communities, including for maternal care.
(8) Disparities exist in California’s system of mental health care, and the identification and incorporation of culturally and linguistically appropriate practices and data in public mental health is lagging.
(d) California is also home to the largest Armenian-American population in the United States. Many in the community have family members who experienced firsthand the horror and evil of the Armenian Genocide and its ongoing denial, which continues to inflict trauma and pain on family members and the Armenian community at large.
(e) The COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis, and recent protests against institutional violence committed against Black communities again highlight the racial injustices and health inequities that have long threatened BIPOC communities.
(1) BIPOC people tend to work in essential jobs that may lead to a higher likelihood of being exposed to COVID-19, or in jobs that have an inability to work remotely and, therefore, are more severely impacted by the economic crisis. In California, Black and Latino individuals are also more likely to have existing health conditions that make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, experience more severe symptoms, and suffer from higher mortality rates.
(2) The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for working women, with almost 2,100,000 working women leaving the labor force altogether between February and December 2020, and for Black women and Latinas, in particular, with more than 1 in 12 Black women and 1 in 11 Latinas 20 years of age and older unemployed as of December 2020.
(f) Racism itself harms health. Racism results in government policies that reduce access to education, housing, health care, employment opportunities, and other resources and elements of a healthy community, while spurring overinvesting in disproportionate and inappropriate policing by law enforcement. On an individual, physiological level, studies show that chronic stress from individual and systematic acts of racism and discrimination trigger high blood pressure, heart disease, immunodeficiency, and result in accelerated aging. Racism endangers the health of individuals, the community, and public health and in doing this threatens the well-being of the whole society, and threatens to perpetuate a dangerously widening opportunity gap between the state’s BIPOC and White communities that is detrimental to the overall public good.
(g) Racism itself also harms the economy. Research shows that closing the racial wealth gap, which is the result of discriminatory policies, including in housing and education, is not only the right thing to do for BIPOC Americans, but it is the smart thing to do for the country. A 2019 report found that eliminating the racial wealth gap could raise the United States Gross Domestic Product by 4 to 6 percent by 2028.
(h) Accordingly, California, joining a growing list of cities and counties across the state and country to acknowledge the long-standing impacts of systemic racism, declares racism as a public health crisis. In order to advance and improve public health for all Californians, the state must approach laws and regulations with an antiracist, Health and Equity in All Policies focus that interrogates whether policies play a role in creating, maintaining, or dismantling racist systems, and it must secure adequate resources to address the crisis. This new policy framework and leadership will also help our state, local governments, and community-based agencies craft strategies for reducing mental health disparities in BIPOC communities that will become an estimated 62 percent of the state’s population by 2030.
(i) It is the intent of the Legislature to institute a new policy framework for racial equity that would provide an instructive model for local governments seeking to establish offices and infrastructure designed to remedy racial inequity and to facilitate further dialogue, exchange, and collaboration between the state and local governments that have already begun such efforts.
(j) Section 31 of Article I of the California Constitution shall not be interpreted as prohibiting action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, if ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) provides under Section 2000(d) that, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” It is therefore the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation affirming California’s commitment to achieving and maintaining compliance with Title VI, including in matters that may conflict with the California Constitution.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 4.6 (commencing with Section 8303) is added to Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code, to read:

CHAPTER  4.6. The Office of Racial Equity
 As used in this chapter:
(a) “Chief Equity Officer” means the individual appointed by the Governor pursuant to Section 12816.
(b) “Council” means the Racial Equity Advisory and Accountability Council established pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 8303.1.
(c) “Institutional racism” means the ways in which policies and practices perpetuated by institutions, including governments and private groups, produce different outcomes for different racial groups in a manner that benefits the dominant group.
(d) “Office” means the Office of Racial Equity established pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 8303.1.
(e) “Racial Equity Action Plan” means a strategic plan for each state agency to address institutional racism as it impacts the agency’s operations, practices, and programs described in Section 8303.5.
(f) “Racial Equity” means the condition achieved when race can no longer be used to predict life outcomes and conditions for all groups are improved. Racial equity includes transforming the behaviors, institutions, and systems that disproportionately harm marginalized communities, including increasing access to power, redistributing and providing additional resources, and eliminating barriers to opportunity, in order to empower low-income communities of color to thrive and reach their full potential.
(g) “Racial Equity Framework” means a single administrationwide document outlining the state’s vision, goals, and overarching strategies to address structural racism and racial inequities, and to advance racial equity and equal dignity in the state, with a focus on the work of the state government described in Section 8303.3.
(h) “Structural racism” means the macrolevel systems, social forces, institutions, ideologies, and processes that interact with one another to generate and reinforce inequities among racial and ethnic groups.
 (a) There is in state government an Office of Racial Equity, an independent public entity not affiliated with an agency or department, that shall be governed by a Racial Equity Advisory and Accountability Council.
(b) (1) The Racial Equity Advisory and Accountability Council shall consist of nine members who are residents of California. Of the members of the council, three members shall be appointed by the Governor, three shall be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules, and three shall be appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
(2) The Chief Equity Officer shall be an ex officio member of the council, who shall be one of the three members appointed by the Governor.
(c) Except for the Chief Equity Officer, members of the council shall be appointed for a term of two years. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner provided for the original appointment.
(d) (1) A person appointed to the council shall have demonstrated, acknowledged expertise and meet criteria in at least one of the following areas:
(A) Analyzing, reporting on, or proposing policies in the areas of, but not limited to, racial equity as it relates to at least one of the following areas: education, housing, land use, employment, environment, economic security, public health, health care, wealth, policing, criminal justice, transportation, youth leadership, agriculture, the wealth gap, entrepreneurship, arts and culture, and public safety that may have an impact on racial equity or racial disparities.
(B) Developing or using budget equity assessment tools.
(C) Providing technical assistance for government or nonprofit organizations in developing and implementing strategies for racial equity, including, but not limited to, employee training and support, development of racial equity programming, and assistance to departments to change departmental policies and practices to improve racial equity outcomes.
(D) Be a member of, or represent an equity-focused organization who works with, an impacted community whose lived experience will support the work of the office, including, but not limited to, members of the disability community and LGBTQ community.
(2) Appointing authorities shall consider the expertise of the other members of the council and make appointments that reflect the cultural, ethnic, racial, linguistic, sexual orientation, gender, immigration status, socioeconomic, and geographical diversity of the state so that the council reflects the communities of California.
(3) Council members shall serve without compensation, but they may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in connection with their duties.
(e) The council shall hire an executive director to organize, administer, and manage the operations of the office. The executive director shall be exempt from civil service and shall serve at the pleasure of the council.
(f) The council shall hold at least one quarterly public meeting to fulfill its duties and to receive updates from the executive director on progress, accomplishments, and barriers to achieving the duties and responsibilities outlined in this chapter.
(g) The council may require specific updates from the executive director as deemed necessary.
 (a) The office shall coordinate, analyze, develop, evaluate, and recommend strategies and policies for advancing racial equity across state agencies, departments, and the office of the Governor. The office shall, at a minimum, do all of the following:
(1) In consultation with state agencies, departments, and public stakeholders, as appropriate, and in collaboration with the Chief Equity Officer, develop a statewide Racial Equity Framework. The final Racial Equity Framework shall be approved by the council and the Chief Equity Officer, submitted to the Governor and the Legislature no later than January 1, 2023, and posted to the office’s internet website. The Racial Equity Framework shall set forth a vision for racial equity in the state by providing guidelines for inclusive policies and practices that includes a strategic plan with policy and inclusive practice recommendations, guidelines, goals, and benchmarks to reduce racial inequities, promote racial equity, and address individual, institutional, and structural racism. The Racial Equity Framework shall also describe the historical legacy and impacts of institutional racism in California, including its impacts across the social determinants of health.
(A) Each state agency shall adopt and implement the Racial Equity Framework through each agencies’ Racial Equity Action Plan, pursuant to Section 8303.5.
(B) The Racial Equity Framework shall be assessed and updated at least every three years.
(2) In consultation with state agencies and departments, establish methodologies, a system of measurement, and data needs for assessing how state statutes, regulations, and practices contribute to, uphold, or exacerbate racial disparities. This shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
(A) Creating and implementing budget equity assessment tools to determine whether budget requests and annual allocations benefit or burden communities of color. The office shall submit a racial equity impact analysis, and any accompanying recommendations to address racial equity issues, of the proposed budget to the Governor and the Legislature, pursuant to Section 9795, annually, no later than 60 days after the release of the Governor’s proposed budget.
(B) Establishing a process for ensuring that data collected pursuant to this paragraph are managed effectively and provide meaningful information, including disaggregation by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status, or other key demographic variables.
(3) Review and identify existing policies, regulations, and practices in state government that contribute to, uphold, or exacerbate racial disparities in areas including, but not limited to, education, housing, land use, employment, environment, economic security, public health, health care, the wealth gap, policing, criminal justice, transportation, and public safety. The findings of the review described in this subdivision shall include any recommendations for addressing the issues identified and be published on the internet website of the office, and reported to the Governor and to the Governor’s cabinet, as well as any agencies or departments with oversight over the issues identified.
(4) Review and provide feedback regarding each agency’s Racial Equity Action Plan as described in Section 8303.5. The office shall also provide technical assistance to agencies during development of the Racial Equity Action Plan and to agencies implementing strategies for racial equity consistent with the Racial Equity Action Plan.
(5) Coordinate research activities of state government directed at advancing racial equity.
(6) Engage stakeholders and community members to address the root causes of racial inequities and ensure that the Racial Equity Framework, Racial Equity Action Plans, and any other racial equity proposals repair historical harm done by government-sanctioned actions.
(7) Engage, collaborate, and consult with policy experts in order to conduct analyses and develop policy recommendations, including building on and collaborating with existing offices, departments, agencies, and working groups as appropriate.
(8) Promote the ongoing, equitable delivery of government benefits and opportunities, including, but not limited to:
(A) Coordinate and provide technical assistance to local government entities engaging in racial equity programming.
(B) Encourage the formation and implementation of racial equity initiatives in local government entities, including cities and counties.
(b) (1) The office shall prepare an annual report that evaluates and reports on progress in, and any obstacles to, meeting statewide goals and policies established under the Racial Equity Framework. The report shall include recommendations to further the state’s goals established under the Racial Equity Framework and shall be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature, and be posted publicly on the internet website of the office.
(2) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795.
(c) The office is expressly authorized to inform the Legislature of its position on any legislative proposal pending before the Legislature and to urge the introduction of legislative proposals.
(d) The office is expressly authorized to state its position and viewpoint on issues developed in the performance of its duties and responsibilities, as specified in this chapter.
 (a) Each state agency shall develop and implement a Racial Equity Action Plan, in alignment with the Racial Equity Framework described in Section 8303.3, and integrate the Racial Equity Action Plan into the agency’s strategic plan. By July 1, 2023, each state agency shall submit its proposed Racial Equity Action Plan to the office for review. The office shall hold a public meeting to review the proposed plan and provide recommendations and feedback on the proposed plan. Each agency may, but is not required to, adopt recommendations of the Office of Racial Equity in its final Racial Equity Plan. The final Racial Equity Plan shall include a description of each recommendation proposed by the office for the Racial Equity Plan, whether or not the recommendation was adopted or modified for adoption, and any reason for declining to adopt the recommendation. The final Racial Equity Plan shall be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature, and posted publicly on each agency’s internet website. The Racial Equity Action Plans shall be reviewed and updated, as necessary, every three years thereafter. The office shall work closely with each agency to provide guidance and technical assistance in implementing the Racial Equity Plan.
(b) The Racial Equity Action Plan shall describe how a state agency will address racial inequities within the agency and in programs of the agency and its departments. The Racial Equity Action Plan shall include all of the following:
(1) A description of the historical legacy and impacts of institutional racism as it pertains to that particular agency and policy sector.
(2) Goals, strategies, and plans to achieve equity within the agency and for services provided to the public, including, but not limited to, employee training and support, development of racial equity programming, assistance to departments to change policies and practices to improve racial equity outcomes, and divestment from policies and programs that further exacerbate, or contribute to, racial inequality.
(3) Metrics to measure current conditions and outcomes resulting from program and policy changes, which may include ways of measuring equity outcomes in hiring, promotional opportunities, and contracts.
(4) A description of how the agency will integrate the Racial Equity Action Plan into its agency strategic plan.
(c) (1) Each agency shall prepare an annual report on the agency’s progress towards goals set forth in the Racial Equity Action Plan that shall include feedback and recommendations from the office. The annual report shall include relevant data on the status of racial equity in the agency’s workforce and its provision of services to the public, including both direct services as well as services provided through grants and contracts.
(2) Each agency shall submit its annual report to the office, the Governor, and the Legislature by February 15 for the preceding calendar year. The office and each agency shall publish the final Racial Equity Plans on their respective internet websites. The Governor shall consider the annual reports in connection with the budget process.
(3) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795.
 The provisions of this chapter are severable. If any provision of this chapter or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.
This chapter shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2029, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 3.

 Section 12816 is added to the Government Code, to read:

 There shall be a Chief Equity Officer within the Government Operations Agency. The Chief Equity Officer shall be appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the Governor. The Chief Equity Officer shall report to the Secretary of Government Operations. The Chief Equity Officer’s duties shall include both of the following:
(a) Collaborate with the Office of Racial Equity established pursuant to Chapter 4.6 (commencing with Section 8303) of Division 1, to develop a statewide Racial Equity Framework in accordance with Section 8303.3.
(b) Develop and assist in implementing a state plan to address racial disparities in state hiring and procurement. The Chief Equity Officer shall submit these plans to the Office of Racial Equity for feedback and recommendations. The Chief Equity Officer may, but is not required to, adopt recommendations of the Office of Racial Equity.