2016- 2017 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

 

Twelve African American pioneers with a mutual interest in and dedication to justice and the civil rights of all, helped structure the struggle of the African American race in America.  George H. Woodson; S. Joe Brown; Gertrude E. Rush; James B. Morris; Charles P. Howard, Sr.; Wendell E. Green; C. Francis Stradford; Jesse N. Baker; William H. Haynes; George C. Adams; Charles H. Callo- way; and L. Amasa Knox conceived the National Bar Association (“NBA”) on August 1, 1925.  At that time, there were fewer than 1,000 African American lawyers in the nation and less than 120 belonged to the Association.  By 1945, there were nearly 250 members representing 25% of the African American members of the bar.  Today, under the leadership of President Kevin D. Judd, the NBA is the oldest and largest national organization of attorneys and judges of color representing over 66,000 lawyers and judges, legal scholars and law students worldwide.  While both the legal profession and the needs of our community have evolved a great deal, the National Bar Association remains committed to the precepts established in its formation:

“to advance the science of jurisprudence; to improve the administration of justice; preserve the independence of the judiciary and to uphold the honor and integrity of the legal profession; to promote professional and social intercourse among the members of the American and international bars; to promote legislation that will improve the economic condition of all American citizens, regardless of race, sex or creed in their efforts to secure a free and untrammeled use of the franchise guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States; and to protect the civil and political rights of the citizens and residents of the United States.

 

The National Bar Association will work in a bipartisan manner to effectuate substantive changes that will protect the constitutional rights and improve the civil, political and economic conditions of all Americans regardless of race, sex, or creed.

EDUCATION ECONOMIC EQUITY AND EMPOWERMENT  

 

The National Bar Association supports and prioritizes legislation that protects the economic interests of Blacks and all economically disenfranchised minorities. The National Bar Association opposes the disparate treatment and compensation of people of color and women in the workplace.                                                                     

A.     Black Economic Empowerment.  The National Bar Association recognizes that there is a growing wealth gap between African American families and White families, and understands that economic empowerment and independence allows African Americans to better develop their own communities and retain the spending power that would usually go to benefitting other communities.  The National Bar Association will work with its affiliate chapter to:

·         Provide low-cost and pro bono legal services to potential Black entrepreneurs to assist in setting up businesses;

·         Develop a mentor-protégé program and network among Black entrepreneurs;

·         Help develop plans for potential Black business owners to find and develop industries that are unique and provide needed services to minority communities so that we do not overly saturate particular business sectors in our communities;

·         Work with Black business organizations (National Black MBA Association etc.) to set up free educational clinics to teach Black high school students about entrepreneurship;

·         Provide educational clinics to imprisoned and formerly imprisoned individuals about starting businesses, and support legislation that advances these types of efforts;

·         Provide workshops for professionals to establish service-oriented businesses in Black communities – law firms, dentist and doctor offices, accountant offices, real estate broker offices etc.;

·         Assist Black entrepreneurs with developing better business connections on the African continent, Caribbean nations and South America to develop international independent economic growth that is mutually beneficial to African Americans, Afro-Latino and African communities; and

·         Encourage its members to financially support Black-owned businesses and majority Black-owned banks.

 

B.     Women’s Economic Agenda.  The National Bar Association recognizes that more work needs to be done to empower women in the workforce, particularly Black women fall at the bottom of most economic matrixes. The National Bar Association will work with its affiliate organization       to support the following legislative initiatives:

·         Paycheck Fairness

·         Increase Minimum Wage (Including Tipped Workers)

·         Adequate Tools to Investigate Wage Discrimination

·         Paid Sick-Leave

·         Paid Family and Medical Leave

·         Expanded Family and Medical Leave

·         Affordable and high quality child care options for low and moderate income families

·         Adequate Training and Pay for Child Care Workers

·         Expansion of the Child Care Tax Credit, and efforts to make the Child Tax Credit permanent and indexed to inflation

·         Early childhood education and expanded pre-kindergarten

·         Expanding Medicaid

·         Increasing Social Security

·         Funding workforce development opportunities for women

JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORMS


Nearly 500,000 youth are brought to detention centers each year and approximately 71,000 juveniles are incarcerated in youth detention facilities.  The National Bar Association recognizes that a public health approach is critical in preventing criminal behavior among juveniles.  Researchers have established that the juvenile offender population has a disproportionately high rate of mental health problems, with estimates as high as 50% to 70%.  The National Bar Association knows that childhood trauma plays a significant role in the criminal behavior of juveniles. The Survey of Youth in Residential Placement: Youth’s Needs and Services conducted in partnership with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice found that 70% of youth in custody reported that they had “had something very bad or terrifying” happen to them in their lives; and 67% reported having seen someone severely injured or killed.  The National Bar Association will work with Children’s National Health System, and its affiliate organizations to:

  • Develop a public health advocacy plan for juveniles; and Partner with Children’s National Health System to develop a training program for parents/guardians, teaches, coaches, law enforcement, attorneys, judges, and others who come into contact juveniles who may exhibit trauma, behavior health or substance abuse disorders.


PRESERVATION AND ADVANCEMENT OF HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES 

 

The National Bar Association recognizes that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) offer culture, a rich history and rigorous academic programs; and have contributed substantially to the progress of Black Americans. HBCUs are responsible for 22 percent of current bachelor’s degrees granted to Blacks; and among Blacks, 40 percent of all congressmen, 40 percent of engineers, 50 percent of professors at non-HBCUs, 50 percent of lawyers and 80 percent of judges. The National Bar Association will work with its affiliate organizations to advocate for:

·         the expansion of Pell Grants and foe the increase of other grant and loan programs that support all students, particularly those who attend HBCUs; and

·         H.R. 4857, the HBCU Innovation Fund Act sponsored by Representative Alma Adams, which would establish a program to make grants to promote innovation at HBCUs.

·         The National Bar Association supports the efforts of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in High Education and other organizations who fight for the preservation and growth of HBCUs.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING


More than 29 million people are living in modern day slavery and forced prostitution and over 100,000 children are at risk for becoming victims of domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States.  The National Bar Association recognizes that human trafficking is the second most lucrative criminal enterprise after drug trafficking, generating approximately $32 billion annually for traffickers. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2011, among the confirmed incidents in the United States, sex trafficking victims were overwhelmingly female (94 percent), and the average age of a victim first being forced into sex trafficking is between 12-14; and based upon cases where race was known, sex trafficking victims were more likely to be black (40%) and white (26%). The National Bar Association will work with its affiliate organizations to:

·         Changes in laws, not just here in the United States, but around the world that would increase civil and criminal penalties for the perpetrators and facilitators of human trafficking, especially those who are on the demand side;

·         Encouraging States to adopt Safe Harbor laws that treat the victims of human trafficking as individuals in need of assistance and not as criminals;

·         Advocating for more federal funding for state and local governments and their non-profit partners working to eliminate human trafficking and provide a full array of services (mental health, education, housing) for survivors of sex and labor trafficking.

·         Members of the National Bar Association taking the lead in developing pro bono and low cost legal aide programs which protect the civil rights of victims while working to secure needed services and recovery for survivors.

·         The National Bar Association will host an international conference on human trafficking in January of 2017 in recognition of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, in partnership with other civil and human rights organizations.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

 

 The National Bar Association is committed to combating injustices through efforts to support and promote legislative and executive action to achieve real and substantive criminal justice reform. This includes supporting expanded open record requests, body cameras worn by police, record expungement and sealing, and dismantling the mechanisms of the mass incarceration of African-Americans.

·         The National Bar Association has endorsed the Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act of 2015 (S. 1897)

·         The National Bar Association also supports legislation that increases transparency in police conduct and increases penalties for police misconduct and police brutality before during and after arrest.

·         The National Bar Association supports measures to address the shortcomings of the criminal justice system and increase fairness in prosecution, jury trials, and mandatory sentencing.

·         The CORRECTIONS Act — potential bipartisan legislation for endorsement on prison reform (S. 467) (Cornyn/Whitehouse)

·         The REDEEM Act — potential bipartisan legislation for endorsement on record expungement (HR 1672/S. 675) (Paul/Booker)

·         The National Bar Association also supports gun safety legislation and executive actions which include closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands; banning military style assault weapons and high capacity magazines; and taking other common sense steps to reduce gun violence and particularly the disparate impact gun violence has on the African-American community.

 

The National Bar Association also supports the following priorities:

-  Mandatory use of body cameras for all Law enforcement officers that regularly interact with citizens. A poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC in December 2014 showed 86 percent of Americans support the use of body cameras. In December 2014, President Obama made 263 million dollars in funding available for body cameras alleviating concerns of costs associated with the technology. Further- more, in June 2015 the Illinois General Assembly passed the Police and Community Relations Improvement Act, body camera legislation, with bipartisan support which was the first of its kind. Other states including New Hampshire are also considering body camera legislation.

 

-An investigation by an independent, outside prosecutor whenever an officer kills an unarmed civilian. A Washington Post/ABC poll found 87 percent are in favor of a policy requiring an investigation by an in- dependent, outside prosecutor whenever an officer kills an unarmed civilian. This is something we often see with high profile shootings of unarmed citizens, and will take away doubt of an investigation being whitewashed simply because of a working relationship between prosecutors and police officers.

-  Establishment of a database managed by the FBI and open for public inquiry which requires all law enforcement agencies to report ALL instances of police shooting of citizens regardless if individuals are armed or not within 60 days of  the incident.  This will keep law enforcement actions accountable to the public. There are over 17,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the country and there is not a mandatory reporting procedure or a centralized database for police shootings that is known to the public. Mandatory law enforcement officer training requirement on the use of force which an officer must satisfactorily complete annually. This would apply to all police officers whom regularly interact with the public. Those requirements shall include use of force scenario based training, or similar training.

VOTING RIGHTS


 
The National Bar Association recognizes that the right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights of citizenship in the United States and the foundation of our democratic form of government.  The National Bar Association supports:

·         Voting Rights Act of 1965 Fix— potential legislation for endorsement

·         Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 (H.R. 2867/S. 1659)

·         Restoration of Voting Rights for Ex-Offenders potential bipartisan legislation for endorsement

·         Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act (H.R. 1556/S. 457)

·         Expanded Opportunities for Early and Absentee Voting

JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS


The National Bar Association is fully committed to ensuring that the judiciary is a reflection of the community that it serves. If there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States, the National Bar Association will seek an African American Nominee. The National Bar Association will focus its efforts on ensuring the approval of qualified African Americans and other nominees who will add to the diversity of the federal bench.


 

STRATEGIC  PARTNERSHIPS AND ALLIANCES

  • CBAC/ABA/CBC/Women’s Bar Associations
  • Women’s Groups
  • Bipartisan Organizations
  • Fraternities and Sororities
  • Gun Safety Groups
  • Criminal Justice Reform Groups
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund
  • US Black Chamber of Commerce
  • National Association of Real Estate Brokers
  • Coalition of Minority Transportation Officials

NBA LEGISLATIVE EVENTS

  • NBA Day on the Hill
  • CBC
  • ABA/CBAC
  • Hill Days with NPHC Sororities and Fraternities