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State Senator

Gary Winfield

Representing New Haven & West Haven

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Racial Equity Advocates Celebrate Signing of CT’s New “Racial Impact” Law

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HARTFORD— Ten years after introducing his first racial impact statement bill, Senator Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) joined Representatives Robyn Porter (D-New Haven), and Toni Walker (D-New Haven) and racial equity advocates yesterday for a ceremonial signing of a new law that requires a racial and ethnic impact statement be prepared at the request of any legislator.

Racial and ethnic impact statements allow lawmakers to consider the ramifications of potential policies on communities of color and inform their decision-making. Before this new law, a racial impact statement could only be requested by a majority of legislative committee members. According to the law, a racial impact statement must now be prepared by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research and the Office of Fiscal Analysis as long as a legislator requests one at least ten days prior to the last day session.

“By passing this law, Connecticut demonstrates recognition of the fact that the policies created and passed into law at the Capitol can have a disproportionate impact on minority communities,” Sen. Winfield said. “Nearly 10 years ago I introduced a racial impact statement bill because what we had on the books wasn’t good enough. I’ve always believed that as policymakers, it’s important that we understand the full impact proposed legislation can have on communities of color and avoid unforeseen ramifications. So this year, I introduced the bill once again and finally, the work of several legislators and groups paid off. This may even be the country’s first ‘on-demand’ racial impact statement.”

“Today I was proud to join the governor, Representative Walker and Senator Winfield for a ceremonial bill signing of An Act Concerning Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements,” said Rep. Porter. “This new law will assist our effort to prevent policies that disproportionately harm people of color. The legislation is a tool to detect and evaluate potential policy ramifications that might have a negative effect on minority populations.”

“This legislation will help my colleagues and I better understand the impact that potential policies could have on communities of color and help the legislature make better decisions,” Rep. Walker said.

The bill received support from The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Office of Chief Public Defender, ACLU Connecticut, Educators for Excellence-Connecticut, Waterbury Board of Education President, Health Equity Solutions, Inc., Stratford’s CT South End Club, Radical Advocates for Cross-Cultural Education, Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, Connecticut Voices for Children, and Connecticut Citizen Action Group.

Examples of policies that affect communities of color disproportionately in United States history were red-lining laws, which began to take effect in the 1930’s but continue to affect health, education, housing, and economic stability of people of color.

Justin Boucher, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence-Connecticut, talked about red-lining while testifying in support of Connecticut’s new racial impact law during a public hearing in March.

“Our teacher members work in districts where people of color represent the majority and the children they teach are too often forgotten about in the creation of public policy, particularly in education decisions. For example redlining that took place decades ago is still rearing its ugly head. Redlining changed the course of this county and specifically that of education, leading to increased segregation and the attendant efforts to remediate that segregation. If legislators had access to the data available in racial and ethnic impact statements when considering these policies, it is possible we could have avoided effects that deny thousands of students a high-quality education.”

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