Human/Civil Rights and Fair Housing
Committee Chair: Dr. Fatima Lawson
The State of Minnesota Advisory Committee on Civil Rights Report Excerpts
By law, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has established an advisory committee in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The committees are composed of state citizens who serve without compensation. The committees advise the Commission of civil rights issues in their states that are within the Commission.s jurisdiction. Below is a summary from the Minnesota commission hearings in 2011
- The lack of resources for civil rights enforcement in the state has worsened, leaving Minnesota in a “crisis mode”.
- Audits and disparity studies are showing huge underutilization of Minority Groups which indicate noncompliance with the administrative application of civil rights and equal opportunity laws.
- Many legal advocates and victims of discrimination are refusing to refer complaints to the local and state civil rights enforcement departments because they are in a continuous state of transition, have a backlog of complaints, and have unclear enforcement policies.
- The enforcement approach for the Department of Human Rights has gotten so bad that a ballot initiative was allowed to come to vote that would constitutionalize prejudice by disallowing people that love each other to marry and make it harder for certain people to participate in the electoral process.
- Only 29.4 percent of Black Minnesotans owned the home they lived in, while the rest rented.
- African Americans renters paid a higher percentage of their income for housing - 61.3 percent had paid more than 30 percent of their household income per the previous 12 months.
- The household wealth of Blacks dropped more than that of Whites during the Great Recession, according to a study released by the Pew Research Center. Researchers say the decline of the housing market is the main influence behind the increasing gap in wealth between White households and their Black counterparts.
COBM’s Proposal is to Constitutionalize Human Rights enforcement and expands the Department of Human Rights duties to include the following:
- Make all the current functions of the Department of Human Rights (DHR) as set forth in Minnesota Statute section 363A.06 a priority,
- Provide DHR authority and resources to establish regional Human Rights satellite offices,
- Provide DHR authority and resources to audit state departments, county governments, cities, school districts, corporations and institutions compliance with civil rights, equal opportunity, fair housing, voting rights and affirmative action laws,
- Provide DHR authority and resources to conduct affirmative action and civil rights impact analysis on executive orders and legislation, and
- Provide DHR authority and resources to administer state contract procurement services as set forth in Minnesota Statutes 16C, and
- Provide DHR authority and resources to submit United Nation’s International Covenant to End All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reports to the United Nations
- Authorize a series of review on various state departments administrative application of civil rights and equal opportunity laws, rules and policies to the extent to which it contributes to socioeconomic disparities affecting African Americans and others protected class groups in Minnesota to include:
The findings of these reviews will be completed and reported to the community, the governor and the legislature by December 31, 2013 with recommendations for administrative and legislative action to resolve noncompliance with equal opportunity
- A review by the DHR on compliance by the Minnesota Departments of Correction, Health and Human Services, Education, Housing and Economic Development with federal and state equal opportunity requirements in staffing, training, contracting; research studies; accommodation of diverse communities, cultures and beliefs; and the site selection and operation of facilities germane to their duties. (Study to involve the administrative application of equal opportunity provisions in the Code of Federal Regulations (Titles 24, 28, 29, 34, 45) and provisions MN Statute 363A and 43A germane to each of the aforementioned departments).
- A review by DHR and the Department of Education that review the special education programs in school districts with high concentrations of students assigned to special education program to ensure compliance with nondiscrimination policies germane to special education programs (study to involve the administrative application of equal opportunity provisions in the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 34), MN Statute 43A and various provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) germane to special education).
- A review by the DHR of 1) police stops, 2) arrests, 3) prosecution and 4) sentencing in areas of the state where a disproportionate number of minority residents have been involved in these actions to determine if their federal and state civil rights and civil liberties are being violated (study to involve the administrative application of equal opportunity provision in the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 28) and Minnesota civil rights statutes germane to departments responsible for 1, 2, 3, and 4 above).
- A review by the DHR in partnership with House Research on the evolution of misdemeanors to felony offense statutes in Minnesota and the correlation to minority population growth in the state.
- A review by a DHR study committee on implementation of the United Nation’s International Covenant to End All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
- Enact H.F. No. 85 and S.F. 182 a foreclosure protection for tenants and homeowners that allow them to stay in their homes, paying a fair market rent (i.e., their current rent) to the financial service entity.