UTAH (ABC4) – A joint resolution to declare “racism a moral and public health crisis” in Utah has received a favorable recommendation in a House committee.

House Joint Resolution 13 is sponsored by Representative Sandra Hollins (D-Salt Lake City) and received a 12-0-1 vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.

According to the bill’s text, which you can read below, the resolution:

  • 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 address;
  • Expresses the Legislature’s commitment to:
    • Identify and abolish state policies that are discriminatory; and
    • Identify actions that may be taken by the state to help mitigate the impacts of any discriminatory policies of the past.

H.J.R. 13 goes on to outline that “there is clear data that racism negatively impacts the lives of people of color in Utah and in the United States,” citing research from the American Public Health Associated that “expressed that racism is a driving force of the social determinants, including racism that is internalized or interpersonal, and systemic racism that is institutional or structural.”

It also states that “the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Utahns but has also highlighted the stark racial injustices that are still present in American society, including here in Utah.”

The joint resolution highlights the One Utah Roadmap issued by Governor Spencer Cox and Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson when they took office, emphasizing that the plan highlights racial equity, identifying and investing in priority services and infrastructure needs to impact social determinants of health, and improving life outcomes for people that have historically had less access to opportunity.

In January, the Utah Hospital Association, along with nearly every major hospital systems in the state, issued a statement that states racism is a public health crisis and that racism poses a threat to the health of Utahns.

H.J.R. 13 seeks to have the Legislature of the State of Utah declare “racism is a moral and public health crisis in the state” and “commits to working collaboratively with the Governor and every sector of society to develop an ongoing strategy to address, fund, and support solutions that strategically reduce the long-term impact that racism has on the quality of life and health for citizens of color in the state.”

H.J.R. 13 will now go on to the full House. You can read the full text of the joint resolution below:

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