Ramsey County supports Equal Rights Amendment

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution supporting the Equal Rights Amendment efforts happening at the state Capitol.

The measure, approved unanimously on Feb. 26, puts the amendment on the county’s legislative priority list and authorizes representatives for the county to advocate for passage in the Minnesota Legislature.

“We need this to happen at the state and federal level, so we will be encouraging that,” said commissioner Victoria Reinhardt.

At the state level, the Equal Rights Amendment would add language to the Minnesota Constitution saying that equality shall not be denied on the basis of gender. State Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, is carrying that bill, which would put the measure before voters in 2020.

Opposition at the Legislature has come from anti-abortion groups like Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. At a committee meeting in January, MCCL legislative director Andrea Rau said she was concerned that an ERA might be used as a legal tool to block laws limiting abortion.

State Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, has sponsored a measure that would urge Congress to act to pass similar legislation at the federal level, an effort that started in 1923.

“It’s important that we honor those who have held this banner for so long and continue to do so, and know the impact that it will have on all our people in all our systems,” said commissioner Toni Carter, before passing the county measure.

Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo said that the fiscal impact could be demonstrated by the wage gap in Ramsey County, which she said favors men by an average 26 percent.

If that gap were closed, MatasCastillo said that 728 women in the county would be lifted out of the state welfare program, saving $8 million in government spending on it. 

“The snowball effect would be a significant cost savings to our county,” she said. “In addition, our female county employees would see a significant pay raise.”

She also said that Ramsey is the first Minnesota county to pass a resolution supporting the ERA.

 

—Matt Hudson

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