At a time when American citizens and political leaders are increasingly comfortable with hate speech and the rise of previously subversive gender and racial biases, it is disappointing, though maybe not surprising, that the General Assembly decided to reorganize (eliminate) the six nonpartisan legislative commissions on racial and ethnic minorities and women and children. The decision resulted in a total savings of $715,000 out of a budget of nearly $20 billion. The insensitivity with which this decision was made is breathtaking.

The African-American Affairs Commission (1997-2016), Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (2008-16), Commission on Aging (1993-2016), Commission on Children (1985-2016), Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (1973-2016) and the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission (1994-2016) were created to monitor and report on conditions that impact the health, safety, education, economic security and efforts to remain free from discrimination that may affect their specific constituencies, which have been historically underrepresented in legislative bodies and agencies. Issues affecting these groups remain largely invisible to a majority population that prefers to see any problems as having been contained or on the mend. This low-hanging fruit was easy to target precisely because the constituencies that they support remain underrepresented in a General Assembly that today consists of a majority of white males.

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