A newly proposed bill in the Minnesota House would provide nearly half a billion dollars to state officials to settle perceived racial inequities.
HF 784 is a massive spending bill written for the purpose of “appropriating money directed at ending systemic racism [and] adopting provisions that address racial injustice and systemic racism.”
The bill includes a $20 million slush fund for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights for increased staffing and creating human rights offices around the state, among other things.
It also provides $70 million for the Minnesota Arts Board “to establish an African American Advisory Committee to establish grants for established and emerging African American cultural and arts organizations throughout the state,” that will “develop and sustain African American cultural arts programming,” preserve and expand African American cultural facilities in communities,” and “develop and preserve public and private places in the state that are significant to African Americans.”
If the bill passes in its current form, $50 million would be spent helping black Americans become entrepreneurs, establishing black-owned business developments in Minnesota’s major cities. Eighty million dollars would be appropriated to The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency “for grants to African American organizations” to increase “housing stability” in the black community, including increasing “available, affordable housing and homeownership.”
Another $50 million would be spent “to establish and support regional health clinics operated by African Americans that focus on services to African Americans and to eradicate health disparities,” though the bill does not say what those “health disparities” are.
The bill also provides millions for audits of the state’s judicial branch, and all state agencies to “evaluate the state’s affirmative action program and equal opportunity program,” and “analyze the state’s affirmative action program and equal opportunity program.”
There is aslo a $15 million provision to implement “police-community relationship initiatives.”
The bill would also mandate that all would-be law enforcement officers pass a “cultural competancy test.”
“The commissioner of public safety in collaboration with the Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training shall propose legislation that is aimed at requiring a public safety officer … to pass a psychological evaluation and a written examination on cultural competency before being allowed to serve as a public safety officer in the state,” the bill says.
Details about how “cultural competancy” is defined were not provided.
Lawmakers have competing views on the bill.
“For the longest time, it felt like it fell on deaf ears,” Rep. John Thompson (DFL-St. Paul), the author of the bill said, who feels as though his bill will remedy percieved injustices.
But Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) called the bill “devisive and racist.”
HF 784 passed through the State Government Finance and Elections Committee Thursday.
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