One top lawmaker's proposal to help fight racial disparities


House Minority Leader Paul Thissen wants to add a "disparity impact note" to bills introduced in this year's Legislature – something he says could help close social, economic and educational gaps.

In a letter sent to Gov. Mark Dayton Monday, Thissen says the disparity impact note would explain how a proposal affects different population groups.

"I believe these proposals would make a meaningful difference in the lives of Minnesotans of color and would show that we are serious about closing the disparities that continue to plague our state," Thissen wrote.

Thissen notes he's glad racial disparities are being considered for a possible special session, but says more needs to be done, and responding to this issue should be a top priority in the regular legislative session, which convenes March 8.

He also suggested using a portion of the budget surplus and bonding resources to make "real and substantial" progress toward closing disparities.

Thissen acalled for the consideration of several other policies meant to address disparities, including:

  • Restoring the right to vote for people who have served their full prison sentences;
  • Addressing the disproportionate number of children of color who are labeled as having emotional or behavior problems;
  • And taking steps to make sure teachers, government employees and government contractors reflect the state's diversity.

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