In 1984, the Minnesota Legislature directed the Revisor of Statutes to prepare a revision of Minnesota Statutes with all nonsubstantive gender-specific terms removed. (Laws 1984, Chapter 480, section 21) During 1985, the Revisor's Office completed its analysis and in 1986, the nonsubstantive gender revisions proposed by the Office were adopted by the Legislature, with some exceptions. The bill sparked long and lively debate in the House and Senate. Representative David Bishop, author of the House bill, was surprised by the 20 floor amendments during floor debate.
A funny interchange in the Senate was related in an article in the Lake Country News Chronicle from Two Harbors. 'At one point during her debate with Sen. Bob Lessard, DFL - International Falls, who opposed the bill, Sen. Ember Reichgott said she received an unsigned note from another legislator which said, 'Dear Ember: Go ahead and shoot him. The worst you can get is people-slaughter.''
In April, Senator Ember Reichgott, as Chair of the Council on the Economic Status of Women, asked the Revisor's Office to prepare a report detailing the remaining gender-specific words that couldn't be changed, and why changing the original words would change the meaning or intent of the law. The report, Remaining Substantive Gender References in Minnesota Statutes, was released in December 1986. In 1987, additional changes to statutory language were made (Laws 1987, Chapter 39, Chapter 49). Interestingly, the 1986 law does include two phrases that were directed to be returned to their original gender-specific form in the statutes: 'airman' and 'sportsmen's club.'
The Gender Revision of 1986 was one of the largest revisions of the Minnesota Statutes in the history of its publication, estimated at more than 20,000 changed words. It occurred during a wave of such revisions in statutes, both state and federal, across the country.
Remaining Substantive Gender References in Minnesota Statutes 1986: Report of the Revisor of Statutes to The Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women, St. Paul, MN: Office of the Revisor of Statutes, 1986.