AB 1726 Heads to Senate Appropriations Committee with Momentum from Broad Community and Civil Rights Coalition
Sacramento, Calif. (June 30, 2016) — The Accounting for Health and Education in Asian Pacific Islander Demographics (AHEAD) Act, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), has cleared two key Senate policy committees. Yesterday the California Senate Health Committee voted to advance Assembly Bill 1726 with bipartisan support, which follows the approval from the Senate Education Committee last week. AB 1726 requires California’s public institutions of higher education and public health to collect, analyze, and report data for more Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) subgroups.
Executive Director Quyen Dinh of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), one of the four organizational co-sponsors of the bill, said, “Our communities have been silenced and dismissed for far too long by public institutions that fail to give us the information we need to advocate for our unique needs. We thank Senator Nguyen and Senator Nielsen for their leadership in demonstrating that data disaggregation for Asian American and Pacific Islander subgroups is not a partisan issue – it is a common-sense solution for unveiling previously invisible disparities in health and education that will result in better, more targeted, cost-effective interventions for all of our communities.”
Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian American population grew by 34% and the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) population grew by 29%, making these among the fasting growing ethnic groups in California. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are tremendously diverse; the Census Bureau has identified 23 distinct communities within the Asian American population and 19 within the NHPI population. Disaggregated data has the power to reveal patterns of unique impact and need within AANHPI communities.
“We cannot pretend these disparities don’t exist by sweeping entire communities under the rug. When our challenges are hidden under overly broad categories, it takes away our ability to advocate for ourselves and it sends the message that we don’t matter,” stated Ashlyn Weaver, a Native Hawaiian McNair scholar at Sacramento State University, during her testimony before the Senate Education Committee.
In the Senate Health Committee, Kimberly Chen, government affairs manager at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, another co-sponsor of the bill, testified, “Having this data is incredibly valuable in identifying specific health conditions and outcomes and developing targeted [strategies], perhaps in language or culturally appropriate education materials for these diverse populations.”
Without the collection and reporting of state data on smaller Asian American and Pacific Islander groups, their potentially greater needs are likely to be overlooked or underestimated. Among older adults in California, Chinese and Vietnamese elders have the most chronic health conditions, and Japanese elders have the least, but Japanese women are nearly twice as likely to die of cancer as Asian Indian women. Uterine cancer incidence more than doubled among Samoan women between 1990 and 2008, but remained stable for Native Hawaiian women. Only 11% of Laotian Americans, 14% of Hmong Americans, and 16% of Cambodian Americans in California age 25 years and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 31% for the entire state. With accurate data about the challenges diverse AANHPI communities face, policymakers can develop targeted interventions where they are most needed.
AB 1726 is sponsored by Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. The bill is supported by a coalition of over 100 Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian organizations in California and from civil rights, education, and health leaders, including the California Teachers Association, Campaign for College Opportunity, PolicyLink, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and Western Center on Law and Poverty.
The bill will advance to the California Senate Appropriations Committee and will come up for a vote in August.
 Giyeon Kim, David A. Chiriboga, Yuri Jang, Seungah Lee, Chao-Hui Huang, & Patricia Parmelee. “Health Status of Older Asian Americans in California,” Journal of American Geriatrics Society, 58(10), October 2010.
 Liu et al. “Cancer Incidence Trends Among Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders in the United States, 1990-2008.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 105(15): 1086-1095, Aug 7, 2013.
 American Community Survey, 2013, 3-year estimates.