Speaker Pelosi celebrates the passage (by voice vote) of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010:

Key Provisions:

Reduces the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine from 100:1 to 18:1, with a 5-year mandatory minimum for 28 grams of crack cocaine and a 5-year mandatory minimum for 500 grams of powder cocaine.
Eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine (the only mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of a drug).
Significantly increases fines for convicted major drug traffickers.
Significantly increases sentences for drug offenders involved in aggravating factors, including bribing law enforcement; maintaining an establishment for drug manufacturing or distribution; involving minors, seniors, or vulnerable victims in the offense; importing drugs; intimidating witnesses; tampering with evidence; or obstructing justice.

This is the first time in forty years that the government has repealed a mandatory minimum sentence. It even had Republican co-sponsors: Sens. Coburn, Cornyn, Graham, Grassley, Hatch, and Sessions. It’s refreshing to see a piece of blatantly racist legislation rectified like this, and without a bunch of whining about how supporters are soft on crime. Majority Whip Dick Durbin was the point man on this in the Senate, and he deserves special praise.

This was a big win, even if it didn’t eliminate the disparity entirely. Obama’s achievements for the urban community are starting to pile up. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency will crack down on usury in payday loans, the Credit CARD Act eliminated fee-heavy subprime credit cards and other predatory practices, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was focused almost exclusively at improving low income communities, and the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act (part of the Dodd-Frank bill) is a major piece of pro-urban progressive legislation, too. Then there were the following provisions in the Stimulus bill:

To broaden access to affordable housing, the Act provides for $1 billion in increased funding for the Community Development Block Grant; $4 billion in increased public housing capital funds; $2 billion in payments to owners of project based rental assistance properties to keep them affordable; $2 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization Funds to purchase and rehabilitate forclosed homes; and $1.5 billion in Homelessness Prevention Funds to keep people in their homes;

To expand educational opportunity for low-income students, the Act provides for $13 billion in Title I funds to go to K-12 education in disadvantaged school systems;

To strengthen workforce development, the Act provides $3.95 billion in increased workforce investment training dollars to keep our workers skilled and to employ young people during the summer;

To improve energy efficiency, the Act increases the Weatherization Assistance Program by $5 billion, helping low income consumers save on their energy bills while simultaneously training more workers for a growing field;

To bolster our nation’s transportation infrastructure, the Act provides $1.5 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Transportation to fund projects of regional or national significance as well as $8 billion to jumpstart high speed rail and connect regions to one another; and,

The Act also provides $4.7 billion to provide broadband access to underserved areas.

The Department of Urban Affairs has a weekly newsletter where you can keep up with the latest.

0 0 votes
Article Rating