Maryland legislative leaders have announced a pilot project to include racial impact statements as part of legislative analysis for the General Assembly.
The Department of Legislative Services will be working with Bowie State and the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center to compile data regarding racial impact of major criminal justice reform legislation. Members of the public will also have access to the information.
Three other states also conduct this type of legislative analysis. Proposals are under consideration in several other states.
“There is finally a broader understanding across Maryland and the country of the existence of structural racism – but we have to have better and deeper information in order to reverse its impact,” House Speaker Adrienne Jones, D- Baltimore County, said. “I am pleased that the Maryland General Assembly is leading in this area and I’m hopeful that it will lead to better decision making and policy decisions in the coming years. I want to thank Delegate Jazz Lewis for his tireless effort over the last several years to make this happen.”
“Undoing issues of systemic inequity requires us to develop intentional strategies for measuring and combating disparate impacts. We do not add to the legislative evaluation process lightly, but we must have a better picture of the racial impact of proposed legislation,” Senate President Bill Ferguson, D- Baltimore City, added. “This is an important step forward, and it will provide a more holistic picture of the effect of legislation proposed and debated by the General Assembly. Communities of color deserve our best effort to ensure fairness in the legislative process.”