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MN Legislature's agreement on public safety bill leaves out key police reforms

Rep. Carlos Mariani called the bill "a great disappointment."

Legislative leaders over the weekend said they reached a deal on a public safety bill that includes some police reform measures, but many Democrats say it doesn't do enough.

The DFL-controlled House is expected to vote on the public safety and judiciary budget bill on Tuesday — one day before the June 30 deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown on July 1 —and, if approved, send it to the Republican-controlled Senate for a vote, Session Daily says. The House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee approved the bill on Sunday.

This comes after House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, say they've reached a deal on the omnibus bill. 

“We are still resolving some minor issues, but have reached a bipartisan agreement with the Senate that both fully funds public safety and the judiciary and includes reforms to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system," Hortman said in a statement Saturday night. 

The bill doesn't include everything Democrats have been pushing for this session (many of which were blocked by Republicans). Among them: prohibiting police officers from associating with white supremacist groups; prohibiting traffic stops for minor offenses; requiring "sign and release" warrants for some offenses (i.e. missing a court appearance); and requiring police agencies to release body camera footage within 48 hours to family members of a person who was killed by police. 

"The original House DFL bill reflected the voice and urgency from community stakeholders across Minnesota," tweeted Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, noting the agreement revealed Saturday night leaves people with "one immediate question: How many more police killings will we allow before we intervene as lawmakers and make meaningful policy change?"

"There are things worth fighting for and Black lives is one of them. The people who have taken to the streets to protest have shown that," Frazier said. "It's time that my colleagues at the #mnleg step up and show it too."

Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, who sponsored the bill in the House, said Sunday that leaving out many of Democrat's provisions is a "great disappointment," Session Daily adds. 

Speaker Hortman did acknowledge it doesn't have everything they wanted in the bill, saying: "It doesn’t include some of the important police reform and accountability measures pushed by the House, but it is a step forward in delivering true public safety and justice for all Minnesotans despite divided government."

Here's what the bill would do:

  • Regulate no-knock warrants
  • Make reforms to civil asset forfeitures
  • Provide grant funding for community violence prevention, survivor support and sex trafficking prevention and response
  • Make reforms to fines and fees
  • Make modifications to the POST Board police misconduct database to create an early warning system to keep bad officers off the streets
  • Create an office of missing and murdered Indigenous women
  • Create a task force for missing and murdered African American women 
  • Funding increases for public defenders and legal aid
  • Criminal sexual conduct reform
  • Jail safety reform (Hardell Sherrell Act)
  • Prohibit the use of restraints on children appearing in court
  • Investments in cybersecurity and crime lab capacity
  • Requiring 911 operators to refer calls involving mental health crisis to mental health crisis teams when appropriate (Travis' Law)
  • Establish new policies addressing the use of confidential informants (Matthew's Law)

The bill would also set the budget for the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Corrections, Minnesota courts, civil legal services, Tax Court, Board of Public Defense, the Human Rights Department, and others, Session Daily says.

The bill includes $2.6 billion in funding.

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