MN Senate ends special session with no deal on police reform

Lawmakers failed to agree on other critical legislation as well.

The 2020 special session has come to a close, leaving a number of pressing questions unanswered — including what to do about policing in the wake of the George Floyd killing. 

The session officially ended Saturday morning with the adjournment of the state Senate, where bills on police reform, coronavirus and infrastructure spending failed to pass on time.

Senate DFLers expressed disappointment over the end of the session, laying responsibility at the feet of Republicans:

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka had been adamant that the Senate would end its session on Friday despite the DFL-led House saying it was willing to have the session to continue longer.

On police reform, the GOP in the Senate had sought to limit some of the more sweeping policing changes proposed by the DFL, while the DFL criticized the GOP for not going far enough in making change after Floyd's death. Among the issues lawmakers could not agree on was oversight of cases involving deadly force.

At issue was a proposal from the Democratic-led House to put such cases under the jurisdiction of the Minnesota Attorney General's office.

Lawmakers also could not reach a deal on a bonding bill, which would have funded public construction projects, and COVID-19 economic relief.

Regarding the latter, Republicans argued the proposal violates an agreement between the legislative caucuses in charge of distributing COVID-19 dollars, as Session Daily notes. 

There were some accomplishments in the special session, however. 

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Lawmakers approved an increase in payment rates for Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program, the first time they have done so since 2014, per a release from the Legislature. 

Other successful legislation included omnibus human services and education bills, which you can read more about right here.

But lawmakers are receiving some condemnation over their unfinished business, with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities calling the special session a "train wreck," with "plenty of blame to go around":

Meanwhile, the regional arm of the Laborers' International Union of North America is calling on Gov. Tim Walz to send lawmakers back for round two.

"We call on Governor Tim Walz to call a special session for the sole purpose of passing a robust infrastructure bill," the group said in a release. "Minnesota workers and communities deserve nothing less.”

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