Now more than ever, states are important battlegrounds on a variety of issues affecting communities of color. This is especially true with a deeply divided Congress, a Supreme Court delegating greater authority to state governments, and the growing diversification of state legislatures.

To that end, AAPI Data is excited to announce the launch of a State Policy Portal that:

  1. Provides insights on the legislative landscape across states when it comes to policies that affect Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities; and
  2. Serves as a foundation for establishing a network of state-level groups that can share insights and model legislative strategies with each other

The launch of the portal also coincides with the release of a companion report, Agendas for Inclusion: Tracking State Policies Addressing the Needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities, that provides an overview of the legislative landscape across several key issue areas, with spotlights on impactful policies in specific states.

See below for additional details about the launch of the portal and insights from the report.

AA and NHPI State Policy Portal Overview

The AA and NHPI Policy Portal contains several key features:

  • A clickable map that allows users to view demographic data, health and voting rights data, and policies by state
  • A filterable map where users can view the distribution of key policies related to data disaggregation, language access, and AANHPI studies across states
  • An “All Policies” table that allows users to view, search, and sort all the policies in the database across states
  • An “Issue Areas” table that depicts the number of policies and states for each issue area

The tool can be accessed at https://aapidata.com/policy-portal/

Insights from Companion Report

Even as we await new state-level policy proposals in 2023, several key insights emerge from the quantitative and qualitative data in the state policy portal.

Language Access

Language access is a key policy priority for Asian American and NHPI communities, who have rates of limited English proficiency at 32% and 12%, respectively. Indeed, language needs are as high for Asian Americans as they are for Latinos in the United States. At the same time, we find that only five states and the District of Columbia have enacted policies expanding language access to Asian American or NHPI communities.

This chart depicts a steady increase in language access laws in the period from 2002 to 2022

AA and NHPI Ethnic Studies / Curricula

States have moved farther and quicker on improving education and awareness of AA and NHPI history through course curricula. Of the 26 proposed policies related to AA and NHPI curricula across various states, 23 were proposed since 2021. Of those 26 proposals, 10 have been enacted, 2 have failed, and 14 are pending. This sharp and recent uptick in legislative activity (see chart below) is due largely to recent surges in anti-Asian hate incidents, and corresponding community organizing and advocacy. For example, the passage of the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act in Illinois in 2021 was partially in response to the rise in hate incidents in the previous year. It is important to note that this category includes policies related to (1) ethnic studies and (2) curriculum with components related to AA and NHPI groups.

This chart depicts the growth of AA and NHPI Ethnic Studies legislation passed over the years, with a large spike in 2021-2022

Data Disaggregation

Data equity is also a significant and long-standing community concern, with the detailed collection of ethnicity data as a high priority given the vast differences in language need and socioeconomic outcomes by detailed Asian American and NHPI groups. This strategy is often referred to as data disaggregation by ethnicity or detailed origin. Of the 12 proposals related to data disaggregation in our database, 5 were proposed in 2021 and 2022 (see chart below). These proposals are split evenly between legislation that has been enacted and legislation that is pending. It is important to note, however, that not all proposals are in favor of data disaggregation. A few, such as HB 5282 in Connecticut, would have prohibited data disaggregation by ethnic subgroups in the public school system. Some of these recent debates reflect anxieties about data privacy, as well as perceptions and misconceptions about the use of ethnicity data to address systemic inequities on a range of outcomes.

This chart depicts a spike in enacted data disaggregation legislation starting in 2016For additional insights, access the report at aapidata.com/policy-portal