The time is now to hear legislation that will make a difference in Minnesota

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee has been meeting for months now and has heard and passed very few bills. Many proposals waiting for hearings have stakeholder agreement, bipartisan support, and are non-controversial. Some are very important public policy discussions regarding police reform that should have been held in a Senate legislative committee. However, in this State Senate committee, very little legislative work has been done.

The following list is all of the police reform legislation still waiting for a hearing in the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee:

SF 20 (Dziedzic) Peace Officers to be residents of Minnesota or a surrounding state requirement

SF 76 (Marty) State and local government Pentagon 1033 program participating prohibition

SF 334 (Dibble) Peace Officer-initiated use of force cases prosecution by a special prosecutor requirement

SF 348 (Dibble) Local government establishment of law enforcement citizen oversight councils and provisions

SF 580 (Fateh) Immunity for police officer’s prohibition

SF 807 (Fateh) Peace officers and law enforcement agencies duties imposition regarding video and audio recordings of the use of deadly force establishment

SF 815 (Hawj) Professional liability insurance for peace officer’s requirement; peace officer liability establishment

SF 1489 (Fateh) POST Board revision of the standards of conduct for police officer’s requirement

Senator Ron Latz (DFL-Saint Louis Park), DFL Lead on the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, released the following statement in response to the abject failure to hear many bills this year:

“Many other bills — simply good government, just-get-the-job-done kind of bills are also sitting unaddressed. Many of them have been introduced year-after-year, and languish in the growing backlog, victims of the years-long excuse that we simply do not have the time to hear them. The bi-annual excuse that we do not have the time because this is a budget year also rings hollow; somehow, we used to manage it all, and the other body still does, even with remote hearings. The fact is that the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee is simply not scheduled to put in the necessary time or effort to get our job done, and the Chair of the committee refuses to allow hearings on many legislative proposals.

“The Judiciary Committee spent only three and a half hours hearing legislation on the first policy deadline day. On the second policy deadline day, we were done by 4 p.m. Moreover, during policy deadline weeks we heard budget presentations and had informational hearings with no action taken on bills. Last Friday, this included two major forfeiture reforms bills that have been in the works for years, one of which was painstakingly put together by a large group of stakeholders as a far-reaching compromise. A DWI reform bill designed to enhance safety on our roads, which has passed on the Senate floor 67-0 in the past and has widespread support from law enforcement, prosecutors, MADD, and Minnesotans for Safe Driving, was inexplicably rejected by the Chair. He never scheduled hearings on two Juvenile Justice reform proposals, one of which again had widespread law enforcement, prosecutor, and advocates’ support. 

“In years past, it was common to work to the midnight deadline to pass legislation on time, at least when I was the Committee Chair. Had we done so this year, we could have spent another 18 hours on legislation, just on deadline days alone! This is equivalent to six weeks of regularly scheduled Judiciary hearings. What a shame that we did not hear all of the important legislation – from legislators on both sides of the aisle – that we could have heard.

“I would hate to think that the failure to utilize our available time was merely a tactical approach to negotiating with the House, to make it easy to tell them that we could not accept their policy bills because we had not heard them in the Senate. We used to be accused of being a bottleneck because no matter how hard we tried we could not fit all of the bills in our time available. This is no longer a valid excuse, as our jurisdiction was split in half with the constitution of the Civil Law Committee which took all of the civil enforcement and data practices matters. And we spent an inordinate amount of time on agency and budget presentations that were redundant for most of us and untimely as we approached policy deadlines. We used to be known as a workhorse committee. We now run the risk of becoming known as the obstructionist, do-nothing committee.

“It’s time for the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee’s leadership to do the work we were elected to do: hear and pass legislation that makes lives better here in Minnesota.”

Senator Ron Latz
Ron Latz represents District 46, which includes portions of Hennepin County in the western Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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