Editorial Roundup: Big wins for diversity

Published 8:49 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

The 2023 Minnesota Legislature will better reflect the state’s population.

Though some statewide races were hotly contested, on Nov. 8 Minnesota voters re-elected all incumbent, DFL constitutional officers and gave their party control of both the state House and Senate.

Voters also elected the most diverse Legislature in state history.

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A total of 35 of next year’s 201-member Legislature (17%) will be people of color — a percentage closer to reflecting the state’s population. About 20% of Minnesotans are people of color, according to the Minnesota State Demographic Center.

That change is worth lauding because of what it says about the future of lawmaking in the state. A wider variety of perspectives and life experiences will be at the table contributing to discussions and setting budget priorities for the state. Research from the past two decades shows that increased diversity results in more innovative problem-solving.

The majority of the incoming members of color — 30 — are DFLers. However, five are Republicans, including one who was selected for a caucus leadership position.

But it’s not only racial diversity that will make the 2023 Legislature more inclusive than its predecessors. A total of 11 members of next year’s class of legislators are part of the LGBTQ community, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund. That will be more than double the current representation.

The freshman 2023 class of lawmakers will include the state’s first Black female senators, first Japanese American legislator, the first nonbinary lawmaker and the first transgender representative.

In addition, the Legislature’s leadership will reflect the increased diversity. Sen. Bobby Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, will be president of the Senate. And the Republican caucus elected Rep. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, as House minority leader. Both will be the first African Americans to hold those positions.

Representation from more women, people of color and other unrepresented groups can improve public confidence in government. And when young people have role models who look like them in government, they are more likely to believe in civic participation and aspire to elected office themselves.

— Minneapolis Star Tribune, Nov. 24

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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