Minnesota House of Representatives


State Representative Karen Clark

273 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

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Posted: 2016-03-24
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Legislative Update

Legislative Update- March 24, 2016

Dear Neighbors,

Yesterday I was pleased to join my colleagues in a press conference to unveil the ‘Women of Color Opportunities Act (WOCOA).  WOCOA is a legislative package that targets the elimination of racial disparities in the educational and economic status of women and girls of color in Minnesota.  This issue of racial disparities is long overdue and has needed to be addressed for quite some time.  

Women and girls of color in Minnesota face significant challenges and disparities.  The gender wage gap for women of color in particular has had devastating impacts on poverty in Minnesota communities. Currently Minnesota’s African American women earn $0.62 for every dollar a white male earns and for Hispanic women that figure is even lower at $0.57 for every dollar a white male earns. A Hispanic woman working full-time stands to lose about $854,000 over the course of her career because of the gender wage gap.  Over 64% of Minnesota’s African American female-headed households with young children live in poverty, with 53% of Hispanic female-headed households living in poverty.

The Women of Color Opportunities Act features five main components:


  • Academic Success (HF 3031/ SF 2885) - Creates replicable model programs—one for the Twin Cities and one for Greater Minnesota—to help girls of color succeed in school. This approach includes decreasing the school suspension rate for girls of color, increasing on-time high school graduation rates, and encouraging girls of color to pursue postsecondary education.
  • Financial Literacy (HF 3032/ SF 2865) - Gives women and girls of color the knowledge and understanding to make reasonable and appropriate personal financial decisions to lay the groundwork for an economically secure future.
  • STEM Career Training (HF 3033/ SF 2916) - Funds competitive grants to community-based STEM-affiliated organizations experienced in serving girls of color and to elementary and secondary schools that provide STEM instruction, giving girls of color greater access to high tech careers, and jobs of the future.
  • Nontraditional Job Training (HF 3098/ SF 3056) - Funds job-skills training and apprenticeships for women of color in high-wage, high-demand, non-traditional occupations—jobs in skilled trades and STEM.
  • Small Business Lending (HF 3099/ SF 2931) – Removes barriers to credit for women of color by funding micro-loans for start-up, expansion, and retention of small businesses that are owned by women of color in Ramsey County who have been underserved. Preference is given to lower income women of color.

The bills have been referred to the Education Policy and Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committees. I am hopeful Chairs Erickson and Garofalo will take these important bills into consideration and give each bill the hearing they deserve.  I encourage you to contact Chair Sondra Erickson at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn and Chair Pat Garofalo at 651-296-1069 or at rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn to urge them to grant HF 3031, 3032, 3033, 3098, and 3099 a committee hearing.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns or comments at any time. 


Karen Clark

State Representative 

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