The Minnesota Senate passed the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Omnibus budget bill Thursday, which provides $70 million, after making some accounting changes and funding Disaster Assistance, in new funding for the courts and Guardian Ad Litem program as well as other programs in the committee’s jurisdiction for employee compensation and health insurance costs.
In wake of Daunte Wright death, Senate DFLers call for passage of further police accountability and criminal justice reforms
Following the police killing of Daunte Wright, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced that the Senate Judiciary and Transportation Committees would host “fact finding” public safety hearings in the next two weeks. Despite promising to discuss additional public safety, criminal justice, and police accountability measures following the passage of initial reforms last July, these hearings will be the first to discuss public safety issues in the 2021 Legislative Session.
On Sunday, April 11, 2021, Daunt Wright was fatally shot by Brooklyn Center police. Senator Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), DFL Lead on the Judiciary Committee, released the following statement about this tragic incident:
Today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House and Senate urged swift adoption of legislation to comprehensively update Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct code to address contradictions, loopholes, and other shortcomings which create barriers for survivors to receive justice. The push follows a recent Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that when prosecuting a sexual assault case, “mentally incapacitated” doesn’t include a person who became intoxicated after voluntarily consuming alcohol.
In Governor Walz’s revised budget, the Minnesota Rehabilitation and Reinvestment Act was included – an act that would expand the types of rehabilitative programs prison inmates receive and allow inmates to earn early release upon completing certain objectives in those programs. The State Corrections System has been steadily working away from a punishment model toward a rehabilitation model for many years now. In the state House, Representative Jamie Becker-Finn has introduced the bill (HF 2349) that “would take a significant step in that direction.” Senator Ron Latz, DFL Lead on the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee authored the companion Senate File 2295 bill and is seeking a hearing on it.
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.