At the beginning of the year, Assembly member Isaac Bryan, D-Culver City, laid out his version for 2023. He is focused on creating policy that uplift working families and addresses inequalities in the criminal justice system.

What You Need To Know

  • Bryan is confident his 2023 legislation will receive funding, despite the $22.5 billion budget deficit

  • The lawmaker says more needs to be done in California to help working families

  • The LAPD is investigating the deaths of three men of color, who died after interacting with law enforcement

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" has influenced Bryan's policy work

Inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Bryan sat down with “Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen to talk about how King Jr., inspires his policymaking and what still needs to be done in California to create more equity.

Bryan hopes to introduce about a dozen pieces of legislation this year that address the struggles of working families and racial inequity.The key for drafting policy is centering the focus on the people who will benefit the most from the policies.

“The families that are being left behind. The people that are on our sidewalks. The schools that have been neglected and don’t have their full population returning,” Bryan said.

This year the state of California has a budget deficit of $22.5 billion dollars, but even though it is a leaner year for funds, Bryan doesn’t believe this should affect any of the work he plans to get done.

“We have always had the fiscal resources to do what is right,” Bryan said. “California has the fourth-largest economy in the world. Our budget is still over $270 billion. If we make sure that our budgets reflect our values… we can get a lot done.”

An area Bryan said still needs to be addressed is the criminal justice system in Los Angeles, specifically law enforcement officers interacting with people of color.

This week the LAPD launched an investigation into the deaths of 3 men from different encounters with police. Mayor Karen Bass said at a press conference that no matter what these investigations determine, the need for urgent change is clear.

“You know there are mornings where I wake up and feel like we haven’t gone anywhere, right, that these are the same outcomes that we’ve seen since the inception of our country,” Bryan said. "And then there are other days, most days, where I remain incredibly hopeful, inspired, and optimistic because we have made progress.”

Bryan said more investments need to be made to address the issues that arise during traffic stops to not lead with lethal force.

“I’m inspired by the LA city council and the Board of Supervisors because it seems they’re going to take this moment just as serious as we are in Sacramento,” Bryan said.

In his work as a lawmaker and a former community organizer, Bryan is inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The lawmaker echoes the words of the civil rights icon words from “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

“I think about a quote he had, ‘It’s a cruel jest to ask a bootless man to pick himself up by his bootstraps,’” Bryan said, “Here in Los Angeles we have tens of thousands who are bootless.”

Bryan says the words of Dr. King Jr. are truer now than ever, and he is committed to doing the work of bringing that message to policy.

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