Rep. Kelby Woodard (R- Northfield) says he understands the argument that human rights are in trouble here in Minnesota. However, he thinks there is a “better way” to educate people about discrimination than through the department of human rights.
Rep. Woodard voted for a bill cutting 65% of Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights budget.
The bill says the remaining part of the department’s budget must be dedicated for enforcement of violations, and non-state funds may be used for education and outreach.
Even the number of enforcements could decrease. It would limit the number of businesses that need to be annually certified as compliant by increasing the threshold that require a certificate from 40 to 50 employees, increases the contract amount from $100,000 to $250,000, and extends the renewal period from two to five years.
Woodard’s position was countered by Representative Kerry Gauthier (DFL-Duluth). “To sit and accept testimony from the acting commissioner of human rights, saying we’re at a tipping point of being effective in dealing with discrimination, and then to gut the department by 65 percent clearly sends the signal to people in Minnesota that human rights and discrimination cases aren’t important to the state.”