Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board Set Aside $62 Million For Blacks

Earlier last week, the Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board made the move to donate $62 million to a trust fund that provides financial benefits for blacks, including black-owned businesses and startups. The Trust Fund to manage the donation is "The Contingent," a nonprofit organization located in Portland.

According to We Buy Black, the money would be shared among black families and businesses. For black families, they would be granted access to grants of  $3000 while black-owned businesses would be granted access to a loan of about $100,000. 

“The Oregon Cares Fund is a targeted investment in the Black community from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund,” the website states. “This fund is meant to provide the Black community with the resources it needs to weather the global health pandemic and consequent recession. The Oregon Cares Fund is for Black people, Black-owned businesses, and Black community-based organizations.”

However, the donation raised some criticism from Oregon Senate members. Fred Girod, Oregon Senate Minority Leader cited a July 13 opinion by the Legislative Counsel’s Office which indicated that the fund could be a violation against equal protection right unless it was revealed that there is a form of marginalization or discrimination against the blacks.

“We think the program may potentially, but would not necessarily, violate the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution and the privileges and immunities clause of the Oregon Constitution,” wrote deputy legislative counsel David Fan-Yeng in the opinion.

“We are not aware of any evidentiary findings by the Legislature or the Emergency Board in support of the [Cares Fund],” Fan-Yeng continued. “Without any such findings, the program would almost certainly be unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

However, following the increasing rate of coronavirus cases in the United States, Oregon has more than 13,000 cases and has recorded more than 500 deaths. Since research revealed that black-owned businesses are the worst hit by the outbreak, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Steve Daines (R-MT) created a $50 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief fund proposal for Black businesses.

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