As part of his ongoing efforts to promote diversity in state government, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law creating the Asian-American Employment Plan Advisory Council. The council will focus on ways to encourage and assist Asian-Americans seeking employment in state government. The governor was joined by numerous legislators, community leaders and representatives from the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community and the Asian American Policy Network.
"Illinois is a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds should feel welcome," Governor Quinn said. "This new employment council will help ensure that Asian-Americans know about and have access to opportunities."
House Bill 4510, sponsored by Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) and Sen. Tony Muñoz (D-Chicago), creates the Asian-American Employment Plan Advisory Council, which will study the barriers Asian-Americans who seek state employment face and propose solutions that can foster diversity and opportunity. The unpaid, 11-member council will be appointed by the governor and comprised of experts on employment access and Asian-American issues.
"Illinois is a diverse state and we must make sure our agencies reflect that diversity," Rep. Acevedo said. "As the Asian-American community continues to grow, it is important that they have the same opportunities and representation in state government that other groups have. I believe this new law will help to ensure that Asian-American constituents in my district and across the state are being properly served."
"Asian-Americans make up nearly five percent of Illinois' population, but only about two and a half percent of state employees," said Senator Muñoz, a member of the Senate Executive Committee. "This new law will help to encourage more equity in state hiring and help improve services for Illinois' growing American communities."
The new law also directs the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to prepare an Asian-American Employment Plan in conjunction with the new council. The report will analyze the percentage of Asian-American employment in all levels of state government and be submitted to the governor and the General Assembly with recommendations for how individual agencies can increase the Asian-American community's representation in the state workforce. This legislation passed the General Assembly unanimously and is effective immediately.
"I am thrilled to have been a part of the process of getting this legislation passed," said Theresa Mah, co-founder of the Asian American Policy Network. "The passage of this bill represents an important victory for the Asian-American community in our state and its implementation will make a huge difference in improving equity, accountability and service delivery for all Illinois residents. This legislation could not have been passed without the help of the Asian-American community along with a multiracial coalition of Black and Latino advocates supporting us."
"The signing of this bill is yet another milestone in the Asian-American community's civic engagement efforts leading to full participation and full integration of Asian-Americans into society-at-large," said CW Chan, Chair of the Coalition for a Better Chinese Community. "The legislative process leading to the passage of the bill also demonstrates an increased understanding and support for our community's needs and experiences, thanks in part to advocacy work by many organizations, particularly during the redistricting process, in which CBCAC was fortunate to have played a significant role."
Today's ceremony in Chicago's Chinatown follows Governor Quinn's approval of the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011, which protects the voting rights of racial and language minority groups in Illinois. The Act helps prevent a community's electoral identity from being weakened by being divided into multiple legislative districts.