06.25.2020

California Act for Economic Prosperity (ACA 5) Passed by Senate

Bill giving voters the opportunity to repeal Prop. 209 moves to statewide ballot

SACRAMENTO – The California State Senate has passed legislation today that would repeal barriers to state contracting, employment and access to higher education for women and minorities. ACA 5, The California Act for Economic Prosperity, authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D. (D-San Diego), would repeal Proposition 209, California’s outdated law preventing full participation in California’s economic prosperity for over two decades. 

The measure passed 30 – 10 after a lengthy debate on the Senate Floor. It now heads to the ballot. 

“The fate of Prop. 209 will now be in the hands of voters on November 3rd,” said Assemblymember Weber.  “While it was sold as a civil rights law when it passed in 1996, Proposition 209 has cost women- and minority-owned businesses $1.1 billion each year, perpetuated a wage gap wherein women make 80 cents on every dollar made by men, and allowed discriminatory hiring and contracting practices to continue unhindered.  Far from being colorblind, the bill has set up barriers to women and minorities to share in the economic life of California. Proposition 209 has hindered public policy, thwarted opportunity and maintained economic disparity long enough. It’s time to give voters a chance to right this wrong.”

If passed by voters, California will join 42 other states in overcoming historical barriers to hiring, by allowing race or gender to be considered in allotting state contracts, or accepting students into the state’s public colleges and universities.

“The state’s education system, careers in public service, and fair public procurement policies have proven to be extremely powerful tools to build and maintain a strong middle class,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). “ACA 5 will ensure all communities have a level playing field to compete for these opportunities.”

“Today the California State Senate passed ACA 5 to reverse 24 years of institutional and educational barriers resulting from the passage of Proposition 209,” said Senator Holly Mitchell (D- Los Angeles), a co-author of the bill. “The collective actions against inequality and injustice that we’ve seen around the world represent an urgent call for systemic change. We must be affirmative in our actions we take to bend the arc towards justice. It’s time for a new generation of California’s voters to stand up and advance equity.”

Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) pointed out that there is constitutional justification and state interest in actively ensuring the advancement of those who have been historically locked out of opportunity.

“Paraphrasing from Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall’s opinion in the UC v. Bakke case, when a state acts to remedy the effects of our legacy of discrimination, I cannot believe that this same constitution stands as a barrier,” Hertzberg said. “In light of the sorry history of discrimination and its devastating impact on the lives of African-Americans, bringing African-Americans into the mainstream of American Life should be a state interest of the highest order. To fail to do so is to ensure that America will forever remain a divided society.”

ACA 5 enjoys broad support both inside and outside the Legislature. The bill is co-authored by the entire California Legislative Black Caucus and is endorsed by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, the California Legislative Asian & Pacific Islander Caucus as well as over 300 business, civil rights, education and labor organizations, including Equal Justice Society, Equality California, California Black Chamber of Commerce, Chinese for Affirmative Action and scores of faith-based organizations.