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Governor/Legislative Leaders- Changes needed in Ethnic Council (State Government) Bill

(Dear Community Member – if you agree with this letter or have your own thoughts please send it to the Governor at http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/ and to legislative leaders)

Dear Governor Dayton & Legislative Leaders,

Chai requests you to kindly request changes in  the (Ethnic Council language) State Government Finance Bill for the following reasons:

  1. It has many good elements but requires some amendments to be effective in integrating the voice of the three communities into Minnesota’s policies and programs.
  2. Please consider the following amendments to the language in the bill pertaining to the ethnic councils:
    • Great work is being done by the Diversity and Inclusion (DIC) committee and advisory boards. The councils need to be structurally integrated into those functions by having the executive directors be part of the DIC committee.
    • Have a panel of Legislators, a representative from the DIC and at least 3 representatives from the community choose the Executive Director of the councils – this will help bring ownership and integration of the Councils.
    • The decision to fire the executive director is made by a special committee of legislators, Governor’s representative, a Council representative and at least 3 community members who are not part of the Council’s board or staff. This will help protect the executive director at the same time offer accountability to the position.
    • The Councils should have the capacity to empower the community and provide cultural intelligence to state government through such activities as legislative briefings and community impact analysis during the legislative session; policy briefs; community briefings and listening sessions etc.
  3. The crafting of this legislation in the special session should include at least one legislator from each of the three ethnic communities. Our communities need to be part of the decision making.
  4. Input provided by the community in testimony at the hearings this session should be considered in framing the new structure of the councils.

Thank you very much for your leadership and for listening to the voice of the community. Please note – the Councils are valuable to Minnesota and if structured and integrated into the policy infrastructure of Minnesota they will offer the nation a model to replicate elsewhere.

Chai