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RELEASE: Minn. House Announces Membership of New Select Committee on Racial Justice, Schedules First Public Meeting for Sept. 22

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

SAINT PAUL – House Speaker Melissa Hortman today announced the membership of the new House Select Committee on Racial Justice and scheduled its first public meeting for September 22. The committee is responsible for examining disparities Minnesotans of color face regarding health, public safety, education, employment, housing and other areas.

Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL – Mendota Heights) and Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul) will co-chair the committee. Rep. Lisa Demuth (R – Cold Spring) will serve as vice chair. 

“Minnesota can never truly prosper as a state if it doesn’t guarantee equitable opportunities to every resident, regardless of their race,” said Rep. Richardson. “The House’s new select committee is long overdue and it represents a commitment to bring about meaningful change.”

“I’m proud we have this forum in the Minnesota House to dive deeply into the impacts Black, Indigenous and People of Color still face in our state, which affect their health, safety, and overall wellbeing,” said Rep. Moran. “While racism’s harm to public health isn’t new, this year’s events have shined a light on the problem and it’s a pivotal time to tackle the crisis head-on.”

In July, the House approved a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis in Minnesota, noting more than 100 studies have linked racism to worse health outcomes, while Black and Indigenous communities experience the highest death rates. Additionally, several medical organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association have recognized that racism is a social determinant for health, with a profound impact across an individual’s lifespan, along with other long-standing, unaddressed disparities and socioeconomic inequities as a result of systemic racism.

"I'm grateful to Reps. Richardson and Moran for co-chairing this important Select Committee, and to Rep. Demuth for serving as Vice Chair. I look forward to the committee's recommendations," said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. "We have to dismantle the structural racism inherent in our own institution and address our state's inexcusable racial inequities."

"It's clear that racial disparities are entrenched in our communities and run deep to the foundations that shape policing, education, housing, employment, health, and more," said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. "The House needs to examine itself and address racism for what it is — an economic and public health crisis." 

Other members include Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL – Roseville), Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL – International Falls), Rep. Heather Edelson (DFL – Edina), Rep. Kaohly Her (DFL – Saint Paul), Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL – Spring Lake Park), Rep. Sandy Layman (R – Cohasset), Rep. Jamie Long (DFL – Minneapolis), Rep. Anne Neu (R – North Branch), Rep. Steve Sandell (DFL – Woodbury), and Rep. Dean Urdahl (R – Grove City).

The first hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 22 at 1:30 p.m.