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House rules committee resolves to declare racism as public health crisis

The House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee adopted a resolution Tuesday that would declare racism to be a public health crisis in Minnesota.

“In every area of life … we have deep and persistent disparities,” said sponsor Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights). “It’s literally killing our communities. And racism must be recognized in order to take prompt action.”

It was reported to the House Floor.

SSHR1 would also create a House Select Committee dedicated to examining the House’s legislative efforts though an “intersectional race equity lens,” considering the ways that racism “intersects with disabilities, immigration, gender, documentation status, and LGBTQ+ communities.”

The resolution further calls upon the House to “actively participate in the dismantling of racism” in other ways, including:

  • working to ensure public confidence in the equitable administration of public safety;
  • reviewing the House’s existing policies and practices, and setting measurable goals to advance equity;
  • assessing human resources and vendor selection practices, including those related to hiring, promotions, and leadership appointments;
  • supporting local, regional, and federal initiatives to dismantle systemic racism; and
  • meaningfully engaging with communities of color.

It also urges Gov. Tim Walz and the Senate to adopt similar resolutions.

Several members commended Richardson for her efforts and thanked her for bringing the resolution forward. They also joined her in emphasizing that the resolution is only a “first step” in addressing the issue.

“It, in itself, is not going to create systemic change, but putting a focus on our work is so necessary,” said Rep. Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield).

The resolution recognizes racism as causing “persistent racial discrimination” in housing, education, employment, and criminal justice. It also references impacts in other areas including public health, family stability, economic development, and the delivery of human services.

“We’re not going to undo 400 years of racial oppression within a special session or a resolution, but it is a step forward,” Richardson said.


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