(CALMATTERS) – Will George Floyd’s death and the protests sweeping the nation galvanize California to make massive policy changes or reexamine controversial proposals with new eyes?

A protester holds up a sign that says ‘stop killing us’ during a demonstration May 29, 2020 Downtown Oakland. Thousands took to the streets Friday night in solidarity with protesters in Minneapolis against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police earlier this week. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Today, a powerful Assembly committee will vote on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would reinstate affirmative action policies in state colleges, universities and agencies — after voters rejected such policies two decades ago. (The proposed amendment will appear on the November ballot if passed by two-thirds of both the Assembly and Senate.)

It will also vote on a bill that would establish a reparations committee to educate Californians about the lingering effects of slavery and recommend how the state might compensate African Americans for decades of inequality and discrimination.

  • Audrey Dow, vice president of the Campaign for College Opportunity: Recent headlines “are forcing us to recognize that we are not beyond race as a country or state. We have not achieved the nirvana of being colorblind. Race matters.”

Although Gov. Gavin Newsom emphasized Monday that “program-passing is not problem-solving” and “you’ve got to change culture, not just laws,” a number of public officials have already moved to change policies.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, is calling for a stricter national standard for when police are legally able to use deadly force. Harris didn’t take a position on the issue in 2019, when California passed a landmark law raising the state standard from “reasonable” to “necessary.”

Harris is also calling for independent investigations of police departments, though she didn’t back a California bill to that effect as attorney general.