ST. PAUL (AP) — A top Democrat in Minnesota's House is refusing to apologize for referring to a "white male card game" during a heated debate.

Minority Leader Melissa Hortman's remark came Monday as the House debated a bill — opposed by Democrats — that would toughen penalties for protesters who block highways.

Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, angered some Republicans by asking members to return to the floor from a break area, saying, "I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game." Hortman said it seemed some House members often leave the floor when female lawmakers, particularly those of color, are speaking.

Rep. Bob Dettmer of Forest Lake was among Republicans who asked Hortman to apologize, calling her remarks racist and inappropriate.