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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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TN reparations ban bill set for vote today

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024   

The Tennessee House of Representatives plans to vote today on House Bill 474, to end the study of reparations in the state.

A Memphis nonpartisan group has launched an online petition against the bill, with more than 1,000 signatures so far urging lawmakers to withdraw it.

Earle J. Fisher, senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Memphis and founder of #UpTheVote901, said his group and others were notified the original vote date was April 4, marking 56 years since Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis.

Fisher noted the petition allows public opposition to anti-reparations policies.

"We started having conversations about how to not just address this in Congress but how to address it in court," Fisher explained. "Because we think, if and when the bill passes, it is going to be in violation of people's civil and human rights."

The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, and a Senate version is sponsored by Sen. Brent Taylor, R-Memphis. An amendment to the Senate bill, passed last spring, prohibits local governments from considering reparations for slavery and any ongoing effects.

Fisher pointed out discussions had been underway in Shelby County about using reparation funds to address how to close the racial and economic wealth gaps there. However, he said the resurgence of the House bill threatens to block the disbursement of any such funds for reparations.

"What most people don't know is like, it's right at the time where they're starting to discuss how $5 million of federal funding actually came through the ARPA funds, and was allocated to address some of the racial and economic disparities connected to health disparities in Memphis and in Shelby County," Fisher stressed.

Fisher added Shelby County received more than $180 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, suggesting $5 million could be allocated to initiatives similar to reparations work. However, the bill would also prevent universities from conducting studies or developing curriculum on reparations issues, which would hinder progress.


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