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Phyllis Kahn Edit Profile

politician , member of the Minnesota House of Representatives

Phyllis Kahn, American state legislator. Named Legislator of Year, Minnesota Association Professional Employees, 1995; recipient Special award, Minnesota Society of America Institute Architects, 1990, award, Coalition National Girls & Women Sports Day Minnesota, 1995. Fellow: American Association for the Advancement of Science (chair, section general interest science & engineering).


Kahn, Phyllis was born on March 23, 1937 in Brooklyn.


Bachelor in Physics, Cornell University, New York. Doctor of Philosophy in Biophysics, Yale University, New Haven. Master of Public Administration, Harvard University, Massachusetts.


She is a retired professor of biophysics. Kahn has a reputation for advocating positions not taken by many others. She was the chief author and advocate of the 1975 Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, one of the first laws enacted anywhere in the world banning the smoking of tobacco in public places.

This law has been used as a template for virtually all later legislation to protect the public from "secondhand smoke," and was updated and expanded in 2005. In 1989, Kahn proposed reducing the voting age in Minnesota to 12. She said "history has shown us that when a segment of society is denied the right to vote, all the rights of that segment of society are then inferior." Kahn has also repeatedly advocated for repeal of so-called "Blue Laws," which forbid liquor stores from operating on Sundays and some holidays.

In 2003 she introduced a bill to repeal the ban on first-cousin marriage in Minnesota, but it died in committee. Republican Minority Leader Marty Seifert criticized the bill in response, saying it would "turn us into a cold Arkansas." According to the University of Minnesota's The Wake, Kahn was aware the bill had little chance of passing but introduced it anyway to draw attention to the issue. She reportedly got the idea after learning that cousin marriage is an acceptable form of marriage among some cultural groups that have a strong presence in Minnesota, namely the Hmong and Somali.

She is a longtime advocate for education, health care and medical technology, agriculture and the natural environment, and human rights, particularly for senior citizens and women. Minnesota House of RepresentativesKahn was first elected to represent her area of Minneapolis in 1972 and has served continuously since then, most recently winning reelection in 2014.


Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, Democratic Party.


Quotations: "history has shown us that when a segment of society is denied the right to vote, all the rights of that segment of society are then inferior.".


A member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), she represents District 60B, which includes portions of the city of Minneapolis in Hennepin County in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.


Married Donald Kahn; 2 children.

Donald Kahn