The public health and economic crises associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have shone a light on disparities affecting communities of color and other demographic groups who have historically experienced barriers to opportunity. To remove existing disparities and prevent the emergence of new ones, Georgia legislators should have the means to analyze the potential impacts of proposed laws or regulations along demographic lines through an Equity Impact Tool.
An Equity Impact Tool (EIT) is a process permitting a legislator to identify, assess, and communicate the potential impacts—positive or negative—of proposed legislation on a particular demographic. This process is performed with the assistance of the Office of Legislative Counsel, the nonpartisan, impartial research arm of the Georgia General Assembly.
Currently, nine state-level governments employ EIT programs, and even more states have proposed legislation that would create similar tools. Georgia Watch believes that amplifying the voices of community members who would be disparately impacted by pending legislation will ensure legislation advances equity and justice for all Georgians. Georgia Watch produced “Taking a Closer Look at the Equity Impacts of Legislation Pending in Georgia” to highlight the need for adoption of this tool. The paper provides examples of successful equity impact tools in other states and scenarios in which this tool would advance equity in Georgia legislation.