photo by Sophia Morrissette
photo by Sophia Morrissette
Minnesota Historical Society Funding
Minnesota senators in late April passed a measure that would cut the Minnesota Historical Society’s budget by $4 million because the words “at Bdote,” identifying its Dakota origins, were added to a Fort Snelling sign. Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (Big Lake) said this was ‘revisionist history.” She said the added words are “greatly objected to by many people, and the historical society has been quite resistant to listen and to make changes. This is one way of getting their attention.” She said Fort Snelling represents “the only real military history in a very unifying way amongst all Minnesotans.”
Source: Pioneer Press, April 25, 2019

House members voted 81-0 to approve a bill (HF71), sponsored by Rep. Rena Moran (St. Paul), to remove a deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Many Republican House members did not vote. It moved to the Senate, where Sen. Sandy Pappas (St. Paul) is the sponsor, but did not move forward.

End-of-Life Option Act

A bill was introduced in the Minnesota House (HF2152) to authorize medical aid in dying — a topic explored in the April 2019 "Endings" theme of Minnesota Women's Press. It did not receive a hearing in the Senate.

Sexual Assault Reform

At the state legislature in May, the topic of eliminating the statute of limitations for reporting criminal sexual contact was discussed at a committee hearing. The bill was introduced by Minneapolis-based co-author Rep. Aisha Gomez (HF734). Asma Mohammed testified that she was assaulted at age 12, and it took her 15 years to become prepared to come forward. After she did, five other women shared stories about the same person. Yet there was no legal recourse, since survivors of sexual assault must report within nine years.

Sarah Super testified that there is stigma and trauma around sexual assault that can lead survivors to stay silent for decades, and that it is important for healing to give them the opportunity to report. “Our bill is about giving survivors the choice to file a report whenever, if ever, they want to,” she says. “We are not changing due process or the rights of the accused.”

The bill got pushback at the hearing. Sen. Warren Limmer (Maple Grove) was concerned about false accusations. Sen. Ron Latz (St. Louis Park) was concerned about faulty memories.

Rep, Kelly Moller (Shoreview) defended the change. “Sexual assault silences people,” she said. “It’s very different from other crimes, and there is a strong reason to treat the statute of limitations differently."

Within a week, Sen. Latz had changed his position.

“It’s important to hold our legislators accountable,” says Mohammed. “We give them power by electing them, and we can take it back. By holding Sen. Latz accountable, we changed the way in which he will approach survivors in the future. I’m hopeful that we can find male allies through conversation and train them to challenge rape culture.”

— compiled by Mikki Morrissette