We are writing as leaders in the faith community, committed to the idea that our state policies must be designed so that everyone in Minnesota can thrive.
As leaders of the church, we bring our values of inclusion, redemption and treating every person with the dignity of one made in the image of God. Along with many in our state, we feel increasingly urgent about the many disparities that exist for people of color, and we call on you to pass common-sense legislation that begins to address these inequities.
Three clear, moral, common-sense bills were moving this session to address these issues. All of them have tremendous bipartisan support. They are: 1) a bill to restore the vote to those who have served time in prison, 2) a bill to extend the opportunity for driver’s licenses for all immigrants who are residents of Minnesota, and 3) a juvenile-justice bill to make the treatment of our young people engaged in the criminal justice system more humane. This juvenile-justice bill also provides pathways for re-entering the world of work as adult citizens.
All of these bills were starting to move through committees in the Senate. But bills on restoring the vote and juvenile justice were not given committee hearings in the House — and the driver’s license bill was not given your support to move out of committee.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, you committed to leading the Legislature toward common-sense solutions, and specifically promised that if elected you would pass the driver’s license bill that has stalled. We are greatly disappointed that you have not backed any of these bills, despite the fact that they have the support and even authorship of many in your own caucus and that there is little or no monetary cost to enacting them.
Speaker Daudt, you have an opportunity to take easy concrete action to lead Minnesota to a more racially just future. If you will lead in these common-sense areas of racial justice, we are committed to standing with you, and in the months ahead we are committed to finding other measures that address racial inequities in our state.
We believe the vast majority of Minnesotans share our values of inclusion, redemption and treating every person with dignity. Let us recommit ourselves to building a state that reflects these values.
Larry Wohlrabe is bishop of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Steven Delzer is bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. Ann Svennungsen is bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod. Jon Anderson is bishop of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod. Billy G. Russell is president of the Minnesota State Baptist Convention. This letter was signed by 57 additional Minnesota clergy members.