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The Minnesota Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus includes 19 representatives in Senate and House who are not white. They have identified key issues they care about:
- Education: 34 percent of Minnesota’s students are children of color and Native, but only 4 percent of teachers in classrooms are.
- Health: Infant mortality in Minnesota per 1,000 live births varies widely by the race/ethnicity of the mother, according to the Minnesota Department of Health: White: 4.2, Hispanic: 5.1, African American: 9.6, American Indian: 10.4.
- Economic Security: According to the State Demographer only 6 percent of white children grow up in poverty, while that number jumps to 16 percent of Asian, 23 percent of Hispanic, 33 percent of Black, and 39 percent of Native children.
- Housing: Homeownership rates for white families sits at 76 percent, and just 23 percent for Black families.
- Criminal Justice Reform: Although Native women make up less than 2 percent of overall Minnesota general population, 20 percent of the people at the Shakopee corrections facility are Native women. African Americans are 3.6 times more likely to be subject to use of force by police and 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than are whites. Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to stay in jail prior to trial, more likely to receive a more severe charge, and, in many cases, more likely to be convicted.
How can we solve these inequities? The POCI Caucus supports the One Minnesota legislative package that includes:
- Closing Opportunity Gaps in Education — Investing in programs that are proven to help students from diverse backgrounds succeed. The package invests in recruiting, training, and retaining teachers of color; funds English Language Learner programs; and closes disparities in school discipline because dismissals and suspensions only lead to more suspensions and more missed learning opportunities down the road. Bills include: HF 448, HF 1761, HF 757, HF 2038, HF 2288, HF 3339, HF 3556
- Addressing Disparities in Health Outcomes —This package makes meaningful investments in improving health care outcomes by addressing maternal child and health disparities, expanding MinnesotaCare, and advancing environmental justice. Bills include: HF 2114, HF 2060, HF 1258, HF 1050, HF 771
- Promoting Jobs and Economic Security for All Minnesotans — Creating renter protections, expanding affordable housing in opportunity zones, prohibiting employers from requiring past wage disclosure, providing for economic inclusion, and requiring equity in State hiring. Bills include: HF 2844, HF 2436, HF 2060, HF 3003, HF 2000, HF 1932, HF 1736, HF 906, HF 841
- Advancing Criminal Justice Reform and Civil Rights for All — Stopping the economic and societal harm of policies that put more people behind bars, restoring the right to vote for formerly incarcerated, and reducing the use of cash bail. Bills include: HF 2709, HF1060, HF741, HF40, HF 94, HF 2831, HF 2779, HF 1183
The People of Color & Indigenous (POCI) Caucus includes Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn (42B), Aisha Gomez (62B), Hodan Hassan (62A), Kaohly Her (64A), Mary Kunesh-Podein (41B), Fue Lee (59A), Alice Mann (56B), Carlos Mariani (65B), Rena Moran (65A), Mohamud Noor (60B), Ruth Richardson (52B), Samantha Vang (40B), Jay Xiong (67B), Tou Xiong (53B), and Sens. Melisa Franzen (49), Foung Hawj (67), Jeff Hayden (62), Bobby Joe Champion (59), and Patricia Torres Ray (63).