BOOKS 2020


Plaintiffs: Aaron Barfield left & Peter Manning Right. Members of Black Excellence In Cannabis

Members of a group called Black Excellence In Cannabis filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month against Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) for what they see as state officials running a corrupt and discriminatory licensing and regulatory scheme in the guise of a legal recreational cannabis industry.

U.S. Attorney General, William Barr is also included as a defendant, as the U.S. federal government has been acting as an accessory by funding Washington State to enforce federal laws while regulators operate and profit from an illicit licensing and taxation racket at the expense of African Americans' Constitutional Rights.

Constitutionally protected Civil Rights at the center of this suit are; Title 42 US Code § 1981, 1983 and 1985.

Plaintiffs Aaron Barfield and Peter Manning are turning to the U.S. federal courts for justice after years of working for inclusion for African Americans in their state's lucrative recreational cannabis market.

They have pled their case in administrative proceedings, meetings with WSLCB Executive Director Rick Garza and Board Members Jane Rushford, Ollie Garrett and Russ Hauge. Also, in meetings with multiple public officials and state legislators, at public hearings and finally granted an audience to plead their case directly to Governor Jay Inslee. All to no avail.

"What we have in Washington is a system where wealthy white men have performed a hostile takeover of our State's entire cannabis market," said Manning.

Minorities and Medical Cannabis activists who are on the frontlines of the fight for cannabis legalization are almost entirely excluded from the legal market.

"Washington has a strong and diverse cannabis community. Participation in the economic opportunities generated by the regulation and sale of cannabis should be inclusive and reflective of that community," said Barfield, who also acts as the current director of Black Excellence In Cannabis.

Blacks were arrested at four times the rate of whites for cannabis violations yet only own and operate less than 1% of Washington's licensed cannabis businesses.

Many may be inclined to believe that the Plaintiffs are just disgruntled failed applicants who were unable to transition from the unregulated world of medical cannabis providers, to the regulated, WSLCB, seed-to-sale traceability system and meet their compliance requirements.

Stay In The House If Not For Yourself Than For Them! U.S. Hero's

The Joint Center Commends Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Appointing Kemba Hendrix as Executive Director of the U.S. House Office of Diversity & Inclusion

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commends Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for appointing Kemba Hendrix as executive director of the newly established U.S. House of Representatives Office of Diversity & Inclusion. Kemba will lead the office’s development of a House diversity plan to include policies to direct and guide House offices to recruit, hire, train, develop, advance, promote, and retain a diverse workforce. Prior to this role, Kemba served as the executive director of the House Democratic Diversity Initiative, and since 2017 has focused on increasing House Democratic diversity at all staff levels. At the House Democratic Diversity Initiative, Kemba played an integral role in the release of the U.S. House Compensation and Diversity Study, which is the most extensive U.S. House diversity study ever released publicly.

“Kemba’s commitment to congressional staff diversity has played a significant part in furthering the conversation on diversity among congressional staff. Her work produced one of the most comprehensive studies by Congress on racial data of staff, and we are excited for Kemba to take on this new role,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “We commend Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for recognizing Kemba’s expertise, leadership, and hard work and appointing Kemba to this vital position. The Joint Center will continue to work with the U.S. House to ensure that diversity among Hill staff reflects the diversity of the United States.”

“Kemba has proven to be a great leader in bringing transparency to information about diversity on the Hill,” said Joint Center Senior Fellow of Diversity & Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson. “Kemba has been a consistent presence in leading conversations on diversity on the Hill. We congratulate her and look forward to continuing this important work with her.”

Hendrix earned a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University and a Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law. She previously served as a special assistant on equal employment opportunity law, diversity and inclusion, and harassment for the Office of Personnel Management and as a legal advisor to the Chief Diversity Office and Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of State.

The Joint Center provided a quote for Speaker Pelosi’s official announcement, which can be found here.

In 2019, the U.S. House passed a Rules Package creating a new Office of Diversity and Inclusion and requiring the appointment of a Chief Diversity Officer and the development of a diversity plan. The passage came after the Joint Center spent weeks working with the House Democratic Diversity Initiative, the Committee on House Administration, and several personal offices, congressional caucuses, and staff associations to incorporate staff diversity provisions into the House Rules Package. Our work on congressional staff diversity can be found here.


In an effort to facilitate increased applications to its Unemployment Insurance Claims Center, the Vermont Department of Labor has announced the creation of an electronic form and staffing increases to assist those individuals impacted as a result of COVID-19.

“During these increasingly uncertain times, it is the responsibility of our State to assist those Vermonters impacted” said Governor Phil Scott. “As the situation continues to develop, it will be imperative upon our state’s Government to seek any and all methods to help Vermonters through this crisis.”

The electronic form, which was created in conjunction with the Agency of Digital Services, allows those individuals who are looking to establish an initial claim with the Department to do so electronically.

The Department of Labor intends that the online form provides another option for individuals to obtain the benefits they need and deserve” said Interim Commissioner Michael Harrington. “Through measures it has taken will allow its staff to better assist Vermonters as they apply for benefits and increase its capacity for taking claims.”

In addition to the electronic form, the Department has tripled the overall number of staff at its Unemployment Insurance Claims Center and has added a supplementary number for the intake of initial claims. An additional phone number has also been established for the establishing of initial claims. Staff from the Department’s regional offices across the state will be answering these calls and assisting claimants in filling out the electronic form. This supplementary line is in addition to the full-service Claims Center line.

As the Department prioritizes its response to the significant number of claims, certain regional offices will be closed to the public, while others will be providing services by appointment, as well as virtually. To make an appointment, individuals may contact their local Career Resource Center.

In addition to these measures, the Department of Labor continues to develop and deploy measures to expand capacity.

For individuals looking for more information on how they may be impacted, the Department encourages them to visit Further updates and information will be provided as they become available.

If an individual is looking to establish an initial claim, they can contact the Department of Labor in the following ways:


Full-Service Filing of Claims: 1-877-214-3330 (individuals should try this line first)

Supplemental Initial Claim Intake: 1-888-807-7072


Electronic Form for Initial Intake:

Department of Labor: