Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee unanimously voted to ban the term "Asian carp" from Minnesota statute. The bill now advances to the Senate floor.
The vote came after testimony by two Asian leaders who characterized the term "Asian carp" as offensive and racist.
"The commissioner of natural resources shall not propose laws to the legislature that contain the term 'Asian carp,'" the bill says. "The commissioner shall use the term 'invasive carp' or refer to the specific species in any proposed laws, rules, or official documents when referring to carp species that are not naturalized to the waters of this state."
During testimony, Sia Her, executive director of the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, said, "The response to this species has been and we believe will continue to be overwhelmingly negative, and thus we feel reflects very negatively on our community of Asian Americans."
Her's sentiment was echoed by Jean Lee, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of Children's Hope International.
Using the term in statute and state-produced materials is tantamount to "using government agencies to promote racist and government attacks on people as a race," Lee said.
Lee said she recently saw a Minnesota Department of Agriculture-produced poster at the airport that exemplified her concerns.
"It said 'Wanted, Dead or Alive' -- in big letters it said 'Asian,' [and] in small letters it said 'carp,'" Lee said. "The message was very clear."
The bill's chief author is Sen. John Hoffman, D-Champlin.
"Why would we voluntarily nickname an invasive species after a group of new and important citizens and a continent representing their homeland?" Hoffman asked.
"It's not going to be a part of Minnesota statute," Hoffman continued. "It's [in] one statute at this point and this changes that."
Hoffman said the DNR has no objections to the bill.
"The problem is [the fish are] invasive, not Asian," Hoffman said. "It's kinda like the word 'handicapped' -- we don't use that anymore."