Each year, Minority Political Leadership Institute program participants work on project teams to advance the understanding of issues facing underserved communities in Virginia. The team project experience facilitates experiential learning of politics in action to garner networks, contacts, and resources for effective information sharing, collaboration, and decision-making. The diverse nature of the teams provides excellent opportunities for learning new perspectives and networking across Virginia, which assists participants in identifying cutting-edge solutions that fit the community’s needs. Projects teams also provide a venue for applying new skills, developing creative strategies for solving problems, as well as a laboratory for working on diverse teams.
Since 2012, Minority Political Leadership Institute program participants have worked on projects designed to examine the racial impact of proposed or passed legislation from the General Assembly. The purpose of this analysis is to examine how specific legislation promotes or reduces racial/ethnic disparities on minority communities within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Projects seek to answer the ways in which the policy:
a) enhances racial disparities;
b) reduces racial disparities; and/or
c) will have racial/ethnic impact?
Conducting legislative racial impact analysis is an important tool in examining the effects of public policy on minority communities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
2016 Team Projects
HB 834/SB 449 Virginia Growth & Opportunity Act
Chika Anyadike, Legislative Aide, Virginia General Assembly/House of Delegates
Saajida Chohan, Assistant Professor of English, John Tyler Community College
Ericka Hairston, Assistant Hall Director, Virginia Commonwealth University
Lynette Plummer, Executive Assistant to the Attorney General and Chief Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General
Anita Yearwood, Conference and Marketing Coordinator, Virginia Municipal League
GO Virginia is an economic development initiative that seeks to preempt the harsh effects of federal budget cuts on Virginia’s economy, which is overly dependent on public-sector jobs. It promotes private sector job growth and workforce development through the use of state-based grants to invest in regionally significant capital projects that call for collaboration between localities, businesses, and education. It is important to be intentional in pursuing GO Virginia’s goals, otherwise this legislation may only allocate grants to institutions, organizations, and localities that already have sizeable resources. A critical question rests on how to ensure that low-income and minority communities can maximize the benefits of the legislation. The populations that are most affected by this legislation would depend on how the legislation is implemented. If minority communities are excluded from the process, then it is likely these communities would be insulated from the positive outcomes. It is imperative that minorities are adequately represented in the decision making process. This report explores why minority communities should be represented on the regional councils, which are the catalysts for the proposal process. By being proactive there is an opportunity to provide the same advantages to minority business development. We also explore how to strengthen the minority workforce to better compete for in-demand careers within the emerging industries that this legislation sets out to promote.
Greg Hopkins, Community Programs Manager, Department of Justice Services
Carla Jackson, Assistant Commissioner for Legal Affairs, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Rana Wilson, Senior Systems Engineer, CSRA, Inc.
Ramunda Young, Campus and Community Relations/Entrepreneur, Northern Virginia Community College; MahoganyBooks; Ramunda Young, Inc.
House Bill 828 (HB828) was proposed in 2016 to remove the ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for individuals with felony-related drug convictions who are otherwise eligible to receive benefits. The TANF program is designed to help low income families achieve self-sufficiency. States receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the purposes of the TANF program: 1) Provide assistance to needy families so children can be cared for in their own homes; 2) Reduce the dependency of parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; 3) Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; 4) Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Section 401). With nearly 700,000 people released from state and federal prison each year, access to TANF benefits is particularly critical for helping formerly incarcerated individuals transitioning back to their home communities. Significant disparities in convictions and incarceration coupled with variations in state population between Whites and Nonwhites translate into a disproportionate impact of the felony drug ban (The Sentencing Project, 2015). Virginia is one of 14 states with a full ban on TANF benefits for individuals with felony-related drug convictions. Adoption of HB828 proposes to eliminate this lifetime ban and provide an opportunity for low income families to meet their basic needs during the period in which they are in most need.
Shermese Epps, Legal Assistant, Vince & Vince, LP
Edward Reed, Chief of Staff, Senate of Virginia: Senator Rosalyn Dance
Brenda Sampe, Family Services Supervisor, Chesterfield Colonial Heights Department of Social Services
Germika Pegram, Clinical Supervisor and Agency Clinician, Strategic Youth Services
Courtney Warren, Policy Analyst, Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice
Virginia is facing significant challenges related to public education such as decreased funding for public education, decreased teacher salaries, and overcrowded classrooms. Senate Joint Resolution 6 was a bill proposed in 2016 that sought to grant the Board of Education authority, subject to criteria and conditions prescribed by the General Assembly, to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth. There are racial implications related to the creation and authorization of charter schools and this report details those impacts and creates a set of recommendations to eliminate racial implementations when determining who authorizes charter schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia.