Phyllis Lorberblatt Kahn (born March 23, 1937) is a Minnesota politician and member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. 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.[1] She is a retired professor of biophysics.


Kahn was educated at Cornell (B.A. in Physics), Yale (Ph.D. in Biophysics), and Harvard (M.P.A.) Universities.

Political career

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.[2] 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."[3] 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.[4]

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 Representatives

Kahn was first elected to represent her area of Minneapolis in 1972 and has served continuously since then, most recently winning reelection in 2014.[5]

Personal life

In 2004, Kahn was charged with theft for removal of Republican campaign literature from doorsteps of several houses.[6] Kahn pleaded guilty and paid a $200 fine.

Kahn was a leading opponent of efforts by DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis to construct an athletic field on its campus in her neighborhood on Nicollet Island, giving her views frequently at public hearings. Ultimately, the school was allowed to build the field.

Kahn was married to University of Minnesota professor Donald Kahn for 58 years, until his death on January 16, 2015.[7]


  1. ^ "Minnesota Legislators Past & Present - Legislator Record - Kahn, Phyllis L". Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  2. ^ "". Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  3. ^ TPT St. Paul. "Quotes for Inspiration." June 25, 2009. Archived September 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Schultz, Morgon Mae (January 26, 2005). "Lawmaking is a Little Like Test-taking" (PDF). The Wake 3 (8): 4–5, 7. 
  5. ^ Becker, Jessie (November 5, 2014). "Kahn will represent University area again". Minnesota Daily. 
  6. ^ "Kahn faces theft charges". 2004-08-04. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  7. ^ Prather, Shannon; Rao, Maya (January 18, 2015). "Obituary: Donald Kahn, U professor, husband of Rep. Phyllis Kahn". Star Tribune. 

External links