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We are at the end of week 5 of the Utah Legislative Session and a little over halfway through Black History Month. Next week, two bills will be making their way to committee that give us the opportunity to make Black History in Utah and make life a little less burdensome for communities of color.  

Remember, for updates on all the bills we are following, please check our bill tracker.

This week, we were thrilled to see that Representative Sandra Hollins introduced H.J.R. 13 Joint Resolution Declaring Racism a Moral and Public Health Crisis.  

This resolution: 

  • declares racism to be a moral and public health crisis 
  • affirms that differences in access to opportunities and resources according to race persist 
  • highlights racial disparities in health measures, including COVID-19 risks 
  • describes calls by various organizations for racism to be addressed 
  • expresses the Legislature's commitment to: 
    • identify and abolish state policies that are discriminatory 
    • identify actions that may be taken by the state to help mitigate the impacts of any discriminatory policies of the past 

HJR 13 is an opportunity for all of us to stand with Utah’s only Black legislator and first Black woman legislator and rally together in support of this important and long-needed commitment to address racism in a Statewide systemic way.  

For too long, we as a country and state have underinvested and under-resourced Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities — leading to less access to health care and dramatic health care disparities. We see these results loud and clear in the ravages of COVID-19: economic inequality, structural racism, and public health failures have translated to exponentially higher infection and death rates in BIPOC communities.  

Your health doesn’t just depend on whether or not you can access health care — it also is affected by things like low wages or unemployment, food insecurity, unclean air or water, or unstable housing, all of which are exacerbated by racism.  

TAKE ACTION: HJR 13 will be heard in the House Health & Human Services Committee on Tuesday. Contact members of the committee and ask them to VOTE YES on HJR 13.  

We also expect to see Senator Derek Kitchen’s bill SB 80 Utah Antidiscrimination Act Amendments back in committee next week. This bill was held in committee last week and will now have an opportunity to be voted on again. SB 80, also known as the Crown Act, would make it illegal to discriminate against people with protective hairstyles, such as braids, locks, afros, curls, and twists.  

TAKE ACTION: Contact members of the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Committee and ask them to VOTE YES on SB 80.  

These two bills are just small steps forward in making Utah a more equitable place for ALL who live here. As the past year has dramatically illustrated, Black communities, and Black women, are the backbone of justice and social change. Let’s do our part to support the Black community of Utah and make our voices known on these bills.