(BLACK PR WIRE) -- More than 350 members of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) will meet in Chicago, Illinois, December 7 - 11, 2011, to learn about the nation’s best models and practices across an array of policy areas. The theme of this year’s 35th Annual Legislative Conference is “Seeing Beyond – State Leadership, National Progress.” NBCSL members will leave the conference armed with legislative ideas they can then take to their respective Capitols in the upcoming legislative sessions.
NBSCL President, Representative Barbara W. Ballard (KS), says state lawmakers have to be “warriors” on behalf of the people they serve, ensuring that critically important issues for African Americans are a part of the national dialogue, “We are on the frontlines in the battle to bring jobs and a better quality of life to our constituents. The issues we deal with are life and death, and this conference will provide a framework for national progress.”
The conference will be held at the Renaissance Hotel, One West Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL, Grand Ballroom, Salon 3 on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. CDT. During the four-day meeting, legislators from nearly every state 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.”
Discussion topics include the following:
•Information Technology and The Affordable Health Care Act – Successful implementation of the Affordable 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% graduate within 6 years. For African Americans, graduation rates decline to 40%.
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. Learn more at www.nbcsl.org.