DC Council committee approves racial equity bill

The D.C. Council Committee on Government Operations voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the Racial Equity Achieves Results Act.

The REACH Act amends the Office of Human Rights Establishment Act of 1999.

“This has been a long process, and I think this is a historic piece of legislation,” said Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie.

It requires the Office of Human Rights and the Department of Human Resources to develop and provide racial equity training for District employees; amends the D.C. code to require the Office of Budget and Planning to design and implement a racial equity tool to aid in eliminating disparities among D.C. employees; and requires the D.C. mayor to include racial equity-related performance measures in the development of an agency’s annual performance plans.

The D.C. Council approved $1.32 million to fully fund the REACH Act at a July meeting.

“We are long overdue for a conversation of breaking down systemic racism,” said At-Large Council member David Grosso. “This is a very big step in the right direction.”

The bill establishes the Office of Racial Equity, which will oversee the creation of training materials on racial equality for District employees and coordinate with agencies in the development of racial equity action plans.

“Time is of the essence,” said Ward 4 Council member Brandon Todd, who chairs the committee. “This achieves real change for racial equity in D.C.”

The bill was introduced in January and referred to the committee. A hearing was held in April, and the funding was approved in July by the council before Wednesday’s committee vote.

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