California Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed legislation that would have promoted upward mobility for people of color in California’s civil services system and required diversity on state boards and commissions. Authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden, the legislation would have been the first of its kind in the nation.
“This would have been a great opportunity for the state to create more inclusive workplace environments and remove barriers that hinder qualified individuals to move up within their department simply based on the color of their skin,” said Holden.
AB 105 would have made specific reforms to processes that hinder upward mobility for people of color in the civil service system in areas of exams, compliance, the appeals process, and annual parity. It also required state boards and commissions to have at least one volunteer member from an underrepresented community.
Holden authored the legislation after seeing a series of letters published in the Sacramento Bee written on behalf of Black employees working at state agencies such as the California Air Resources and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with detailed accounts of how Black employees are passed up for promotions over their peers.
Additionally, AB 105 called for state agencies to collect and report demographic data using more nuanced categories of Californians of African descent, similar to the data collected for Californians of Asian descent. This data is needed to accurately report who among Californians of African descent is experiencing barriers to upward mobility and would be utilized by the State task force studying and developing reparation proposals for African Americans (established by AB 3121, authored by former Assemblymember Shirley Weber.
Last year, Governor Newsom signed Holden’s legislation, AB 979 that mandated diversity on corporate boards based in California – a policy that will also help drive upward mobility for people of color.
“We are already seeing AB 979 making a positive impact, and some companies were in compliance before the bill was signed,” Holden stated. “Similarly, Governor Newsom is clearly showing his commitment as we are seeing more people of color in his appointments than his predecessors. AB 105 would have only strengthened efforts to diversify our state boards and commissions by making lasting structural change in State law.
“I’ll continue to work with the Governor and his administration to make sure California will lead the way on this important issue.”