By HUNTER FIELD | Arkansas Advocate
A legislative committee Tuesday morning passed a bill to end state affirmative action, but most of the public was left in the dark on the proposal’s language because it wasn’t made publicly available until after the panel voted and adjourned.
Senate Bill 71 by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro) would do away with programs that encourage state agencies, public schools and colleges to hire people of color and women.
“We’re eliminating affirmative action,” Sullivan said. “And in reality, making affirmative action available to everyone, not just a select group.”
Nine other states have banned affirmative action, whether through legislation, court action or executive orders. The bans have largely focused on college admissions, and the U.S. Supreme Court is largely expected to rule against raced-based college admissions in a case that’s expected to have nationwide ramifications.
In 2020, Idaho outlawed affirmative action for state agencies, state contracting and public education.
Under Sullivan’s bill a city, county, institution of higher education, public school district or a political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of the state would be prohibited from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, an individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in matters of state employment, public education or state procurement.
The bill also strikes sections from the following portions of state law that deal with diversity, equity and inclusion:
• The Alcoholic Beverage Control shall no longer consider ownership diversity when issuing alcohol permits, under SB71.
• Public schools would no longer be required to make it a goal to hire and retain teachers and administrators of minority races and ethnicities to, at a minimum, reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the district’s students
• The state Department of Education would no longer be instructed to work with the colleges and universities to attract more teachers of color to the profession.
• Public colleges and universities would no longer be required to develop plans to recruit and retain minority students, faculty and staff.
• It would open the Critical Needs Minority Teacher Scholarship Program to all individuals instead of only minorities. The program was designed to attract qualified minority teachers to the Delta and parts of state with critical shortages of teachers by awarding scholarships to minorities who pledged to teach in those areas.
• It would do away with the program that required every state department, agency, board, commission, and institution of higher education and every constitutional officer to adopt and pursue a comprehensive equal employment hiring program designed to increase the percentage of minority employees to a level that approximates the percentage of minorities in the state’s population.
Negligently violating Sullivan’s bill would be a class A misdemeanor.
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Categories: Region & State
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