LANSING, Mich. (WILX) — An advisory board created by the governor has recommended 11 changes they believe can make the experience of black people in Michigan fairer.
The Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC) was created by an executive order of Governor Whitmer in 2020. It is part of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, created to identify barriers in the black community when it comes to education , community safety, health. , and business management.
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On Tuesday, BLAC did 11 policy recommendations to close these racial equity gaps and build a stronger state.
Robert Womack is a Kent County Commissioner who is also co-chairman of the council.
“The Council has been diligent throughout the year to create recommendations that will help Michigan be fairer to Black communities across the state and address the issues that have plagued Black communities for far too long” , Womack said.
Based on expert presentations and other forms of research and analysis, BLAC has proposed 11 policy recommendations to Governor Whitmer:
- Support the CROWN Act: Legislation that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is denial of employment and other opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles such as braids, locs, twists, or Bantu knots.
- Support an interest rate cap for payday loans in Michigan: Urge the Michigan Legislature to pass and Governor Whitmer to sign legislation that would cap payday loan interest rates at 36% APR.
- Include black businesses in Michigan’s $10 billion federal infrastructure projects: Calling on Governor Whitmer’s administration to work closely with business organizations that serve black business owners to help black entrepreneurs get the resources, credit and training they need to participate meaningfully to the contracting opportunities presented by the federal infrastructure investments that are coming to Michigan.
- Support diversity on boards and C-suites: Asking the Michigan Legislature to hold hearings on HB 597, which encourages boards to have more diverse representation and pass the legislation.
- Better collection and analysis of criminal justice data: BLAC recommends that data collection and professional analysis be initiated with the assistance of our Attorney General, the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), the Michigan Attorneys Association and other stakeholders to strategically collaborate, collect and analyze data.
- Prohibit no-knock warrants: Urging the House Government Operations Committee to hold hearings on HB 5013 and other laws that would prohibit or limit the use of no-knock or fast-knock warrants, and urging the state legislature to pass meaningful reform and advising Governor Whitmer to sign the bill after the legislature passes it.
- Increase school funding: Legislative amendments to increase School Support Fund revenues by at least $3.6 billion and establish a permanent weighted funding formula based on student and community needs and Universal Early Childhood Education (0- 3).
- Rejecting censorship in history teaching: Encourage Governor Whitmer to ensure that the goal of Michigan schools should be history instruction presented by professionals with the subject matter expertise, instructional skills, and judgment necessary to present students with complex information based on provable facts and add to the understanding of modern America.
- Increase mental health supports for the Black community: Recommend Michigan has set a goal to increase the number of black mental health service providers by 20% each year over five years. The health committee recommends reviewing state licensure policies to remove barriers black psychologists face in obtaining licensure in Michigan.
- Ensuring an equitable distribution of public health funds: Ensure that all Michigan communities with large black populations receive sufficient funding to address mental health issues.
- Protecting Black Voting Rights: Urge state officials to remain vigilant in combating schemes to deprive Michiganders of color.
“We believe these recommendations will be a solid first step toward breaking down barriers in education, community safety, health, and business,” said BLAC Co-Chair Dr. Donna L. Bell.
BLAC will hold a virtual town hall to discuss its policy recommendations on Thursday, May 12 at 4 p.m.
To learn more about BLAC and this upcoming event, visit www.michigan.gov/BLAC.
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