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Michigan state rep. proposes reparations to African Americans in new bill

Michigan state representative Cynthia A. Johnson of the 5th District House
Michigan House Democrats
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Michigan state rep. proposes reparations to African Americans in new bill

The bill, introduced by Representative Cynthia A. Johnson on Tuesday, would allot $1,500,000,000.00 to a racial equity and reparations fund for African Americans in Michigan.

A Michigan state lawmaker has introduced legislation that would establish a racial equity and reparations fund of $1.5 billion for African Americans in the state.

Representative Cynthia A. Johnson, a Democrat, introduced House Bill 5673 on Tuesday along with nine co-sponsors. The bill marks one of three that hope to make up the “Racial Equity and Reparations Fund Act.”

Johnson said the fund could be the move needed to bolster business and create more opportunities for these those historically shut out. Johnson said the fund would also be open to Indigenous community members as well as those in rural areas who have "been forgotten."

“If a small business is struggle or there’s a business that has a business plan but doesn’t have the money, that's what this fund would be for. It's so we can start creating jobs within the African American communities," Johnson said.

In a series of three bills, the Racial Equity and Reparations Fund Act would do the following:

1. Establish a Racial Equity and Reparations fund in the Department of Treasury to provide for the expenditure of money from the fund, and to provide for the powers and duties of certain state officers and entities.

2. Modify a section of the “Michigan Strategic Fund Act” which the fund shall not provide funding for a project or an economic development project, or provide a loan, grant, or other assistance to any entity unless that entity, prior to receiving that funding, loan, grant, or other assistance pays a surcharge equal to 13% of the present value of the amount of the funding, loan, grant, or other assistance, as determined by the board to the racial equity and reparations fund created in the racial equity and reparations fund act.

3. Create a bill to make, supplement, and adjust appropriations for various state departments and agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022 to provide for certain conditions on appropriations. The gross appropriation (part 1) would be $1.5 billion in Sec. 101 for various state departments and agencies to supplement appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022 and (part 2) funds appropriated in part 1 for racial equity and reparations fund must be deposited into the racial equity funds created in the act.

Discussions on reparations for African Americans have historically fallen on party lines, something Johnson says she’s aware is an uphill battle.

“These are the people who I believe really need a chance where chances have not been gotten for them. We’re pretty much sure the republican party will not take up this bill that’s the honest to God truth but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We should always try.”

The legislation has been referred to the committee on Appropriations.

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