The conference will take place at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. Next year the conference will take place in the District of Columbia. During the four-day meeting this year, legislators from around the country and the U.S. Virgin Islands will tackle issues that pose challenges for the African-American community in particular and for America as a whole.
Representative Will Davis (IL), Chair, Illinois Black Caucus, says this meeting is critically important because of the challenges African-American communities are facing.
"We want to make sure the voices of African-American state legislators are heard in Washington, D.C. The problems in our communities are real and we need national focus on them," Davis said.
Discussion topics include the following:
• Information Technology and The Affordable Health Care Act –Successful implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act will rely on the use of technology to make medical records and information portable. $16 billion dollars in grants were allocated to states for the rapidly growing Health Information Technology (HIT) industry. NBCSL members will discuss how states can best use those dollars to increase access to quality, affordable health care, and address disparity between whites and minorities in HIT workforce participation.
• Financing Large-Scale Transportation Projects – As federal funding for transit is more limited and states are strapped for cash, state lawmakers search for alternatives to fund important transit projects to support commerce and industry in their districts.
• Urban Agriculture –NBCSL will discuss the need to create partnerships between rural and urban America to develop healthy nutrition alternatives for our most vulnerable populations, including the promotion of urban farming and farmer's markets.
• Education Disparities –Legislators will address the greatest barriers impeding successful college completion. Of all students who enter a four-year degree program, it is estimated that only 57 percent graduate within 6 years. For African-Americans, graduation rates decline to 40 percent.
Based in the District, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) is a membership association representing over 600 African-American state legislators hailing from 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NBCSL members represent more than 50 million Americans of all racial backgrounds. NBCSL tracks legislation at all levels of government and actively monitors state and federal policy initiatives to provide its members with important information. Each year, NBCSL members pass resolutions that directly impact federal and state policy. The organization focuses on U.S. domestic policy and is committed to policies that positively affect all Americans. To learn more about NBCSL, visit www.washingtoninformer.com.