MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A racial equity task force is advocating that Vermont declare racism a public health emergency and revise hate speech laws, among other recommendations aimed at increasing the participation of people of color in state offices.

The task force's second report was published Thursday and includes broad ranging recommendations aimed at promoting racial equity in schools, public office and public health.

The 12-member Racial Equity Task Force was convened in June by Republican Gov. Phil Scott in response to the disproportionate toll that COVID-19 has taken on communities of color as well as the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In the report, the task force wrote that they deliberated at length over how to strengthen laws and policies about hate speech.

“There were no clear or easy answers to the question of how the state can strengthen protections for communities of color while also honoring the free speech and other rights afforded to the public,” the report stated.

To support more diverse candidates running for public office, the task force also recommended providing a needs-based stipend for state legislators, who currently earn less than $14,000 during the five-month session.