MONTGOMERY — Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday held a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 534. This legislation, sponsored by State Representative John Knight and State Senator Roger Smitherman, codifies the Director of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA) as a cabinet level position and creates an advisory board on minority affairs.
Alabama is only the second state in the country to have a cabinet level position devoted to minority and women’s affairs. Governor Bentley said the creation of the office is critical to addressing the challenges of minorities and women.
“As Governor, issues impacting all Alabamians are important to me,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “When I created the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs in March, I wanted a resource and a new perspective on addressing minority and women’s issues in Alabama. With the executive order, there was no guarantee that the office would continue after my term. I appreciate the Alabama Legislature, especially the bill sponsors, for assisting me in elevating this position to a cabinet level and establishing it into law so that it will remain an important resource for future leaders. The Governor’s Office on Minority Affairs is an important part of the Great State 2019 plan.”
In March, Governor Bentley created the office by executive order and appointed Mobile native Nichelle Nix as director. With the new legislation, the office will remain a part of all future governors’ cabinets. The position is an important liaison between minority communities and the Governor.
The State of Alabama has a strong population of diverse racial and ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians, Asians, Native Americans, and others. The GOMA will advise the Governor on issues affecting minorities, including women, and will focus on the improvement of the overall quality of life of minorities, specifically in the areas of education, health, economics, political participation and empowerment, housing, employment, civil rights, criminal justice and race relations.
“It has been an honor to serve as the Director of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs for two months. During my short time, I have met so many wonderful Alabamians who create a unique and significant mark on our state. I have developed a greater awareness for segments of the community that may need additional assistance, and it is my singular mission to connect minorities and women to opportunities that address their needs and help them reach their full potential. I appreciate the Alabama Legislature taking an important step to codify this legislation and allow the office to become a permanent position in the Governor’s cabinet, and I thank Governor Bentley for his vision to prioritize the needs of minorities.”
This legislation was signed into law May 11, 2016.
The Office of Alabama Governor