Today, the United Black Legislative Caucus announced its 2021 Legislative Agenda aimed at eliminating racial inequities and helping Black Minnesotans bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. The priorities are aimed at addressing disparities regarding economic opportunity, housing, education, health and human services, public safety, transportation, and environmental justice.
“The challenges facing Black Minnesotans are numerous, persistent, and urgent, and have been greatly compounded by COVID-19’s impacts on their health and economic security,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul), UBLC co-chair. “Black Minnesotans deserve bold progress to eliminate disparities rather than incremental changes, and this agenda represents actions lawmakers can take this year to ensure everyone can share in our state’s success.”
“Even before the pandemic, Minnesota had some of the worst racial disparities in the nation,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL- Mendota Heights), co-chair of the UBLC. “The agenda we are bringing forward today is an important step forward in closing critical gaps for Black Minnesotans to ensure we all have an opportunity to succeed and thrive. There are significant annual economic costs to the state by failing to address these disparities and it continues to lead to a less prosperous Minnesota for all.”
The agenda includes many important actions lawmakers can take to strengthen the future for Black Minnesotans such as:
· Removes barriers to economic security, including high unemployment rates, a significant wage gap, barriers to starting a business, and systemic roadblocks towards building generational wealth.
· Tackles the systemic racism Black Minnesotans have faced in homeownership through redlining, displacement, and barriers to capital, in addition to facing discrimination as renters.
· Invests in students to help them achieve, including measures to address Minnesota’s opportunity gap – the worst in the nation – and COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black learners.
· Addresses key health disparities, including poor maternal and child health outcomes.
· Ensures investments in transportation infrastructure consider the needs of Black communities toward our entire region’s success.
· Focuses on reforming Minnesota’s legal system to address disproportionately harmful impacts on the Black community.
· Delivers economic justice by recognizing Black neighborhoods are disproportionately subject to air and water pollution and live and work in areas more vulnerable to certain climate-related disasters.
At the start of the current legislative session, membership of the UBLC grew from six to 10, with eight House members and two senators, highlighting an increasing diversity among lawmakers better reflective of their constituencies. The UBLC’s legislative priorities build upon the work of the House Select Committee on Racial Justice – which Rep. Moran and Rep. Richardson co-chaired in 2020 – which issued a series of recommendations to address systemic racism.