Senate DFLers approached crime from all sides this session – supporting law enforcement, first responders, and crime victims, increasing funding for our courts system, addressing head on crimes like carjacking and reducing violent crime, supporting our communities in reducing crime, and focusing on rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. We know that public safety means community safety, and that communities need to have a lead role in determining what that looks like, which is why Senate DFLers also included $300 million in public safety aid in the tax bill. From keeping kids out of the criminal justice system with youth intervention grants to decreasing forensic evidence turnaround time and reducing the likelihood someone commits additional crimes, Senate DFLers are committed to ensuring Minnesotans are and feel safe in their communities, after years of little to no investment in public safety under Republican control.
Senate DFLers also promised action that keeps our kids safe, and firearms are the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Passing Expanded Background Checks and Extreme Risk Protection Orders are the start of addressing this gun violence.
Violent Crime Reduction Strategy
Specialized skillsets and strategies will be brought together through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to reduce violent crime, identifying trends in violent crimes and those planning to commit them. This requires a balanced approach through education and prevention coupled with precision criminal investigations. These investments will ensure a safer Minnesota.
Senate DFLers have seen the increase in carjackings across the state and took action to address them, ensuring carjacking is properly addressed in our criminal laws while making investments in the BCA and local law enforcement so law enforcement departments have the tools they need to address this increase.
Youth Intervention Program Grants
Youth intervention program grants support community-based early intervention programs for youth and their families. Programs include truancy prevention, literary and academic assistance, behavioral interventions and counseling, mentoring, juvenile justice system diversions and restorative justice, afterschool activities, career exploration and life skills classes, and emergency youth shelters.
These programs are one of the most effective tools the state has to keep youth from becoming entangled in the criminal justice system and to intervene when youth are. Youth intervention programs prevent and reduce crime. Senate DFLers have fought for years for increases in these programs, and this historic investment will help ensure every Minnesotans feels safe in their community.
Additional Funding for Criminal Prosecution in the Attorney General’s Office
*See ‘State Government’ section for more information on additional funding for the Attorney General’s Office.*
Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis
The emergence of illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids including fentanyl, carfentanil, and their analogues represents an escalation of the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic.
Often, the population of people using and overdosing on fentanyl looks very similar to the population using heroin. However, the drivers of fentanyl use can be complicated as the drug is often sold in counterfeit pills – designed to look like common prescription opioids or benzodiazepines – or is added as an adulterant to heroin or other drugs, unbeknownst to the user.
A dozen states have adopted fentanyl possession penalties, and Minnesota this year passed a bill to equate fentanyl possession and sales crimes to those for heroin. Senate DFLers also passed harm reduction measures, combatting both fentanyl sales and addressing addiction.
Crimes of Bias
Senate DFLers passed a bill that closes loopholes in the state’s crimes of bias laws and allows for better information gathering, reporting, and collaboration between stakeholders. This allows for better protections and ensures all Minnesotans are able to feel safe in their communities.
SUPPORTING LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FIRST RESPONDERS
Law Enforcement Expedited Training and Pathways to Policing
Senate DFLers are committed to addressing the law enforcement shortage, passing a bill this year to expedite the pipeline for individuals who want to become law enforcement officers mid-career. Senate DFLers also increased support for the pathways to policing program, which encourages individuals from non-traditional backgrounds to become law enforcement officers.
First Responder Wellness
Senate DFLers passed a bill to support first responder wellness and mental health, ensuring law enforcement agencies have the resources they need to offer support to law enforcement and first responders.
Soft Body Armor
Senate DFLers are committed to supporting law enforcement, first responders, and fire fighters. They passed a bill this year to allow fire fighters to be reimbursed for purchasing soft body armor.
Line of Duty Death Benefits Expansion
Senate DFLers understand the toll being in law enforcement can take on an officer’s mental health. They passed a bill this year to ensure law enforcement officers who die by suicide as a result of PTSD contracted on the job are eligible for line of duty death benefits.
No Knock Search Warrant Reform
No knock search warrants are dangerous for both the individuals and law enforcement officers involved. Senate DFLers are committed to ensuring all Minnesotans are safe in their communities, and this includes law enforcement in the communities they serve. They passed a bill this year to ban no-knock warrants, and made investments in the tools and resources law enforcement needs to use less dangerous means of keeping communities safe.
Ensuring Quality Law Enforcement Officers
Senate DFLers support law enforcement, and that means ensuring the officers serving our communities are of the upstanding moral character needed to do so. They passed a bill this year to prohibit retaliation against an officer who reports or intervenes in a case of excessive force. They also passed a bill to prohibit affiliation with white supremacist organizations and other hate groups, taking steps to rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities across Minnesota.
PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNITY FUNDS
Community Crime and Violence Prevention, Crisis Response and Criminal Investigation Grants
Senate DFLers are focused on addressing public safety from all angles, and ensuring communities have a voice in addressing public safety needs in their community. They passed a bill this year investing in community-based programs that operate crime or violence prevention and intervention programs that provide direct services to community members as well as funding for law enforcement agencies and local governments to maintain and expand crisis response teams, allowing social workers and mental health providers to serve as first responders for individuals having a mental health crisis.
Public Safety Aid
See ‘Taxes’ section for $300 million in one-time Public Safety Aid to cities, counties, and Tribal governments.
SUPPORTING CRIME VICTIMS
Closing The Federal Crime Victim Funding Gap
The Victim of Crimes Act (VOCA) is the largest source of funding available to victims of crime in Minnesota through the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). This is federal funding and there is a gap between what Minnesota receives and what is required. Senate DFLers are committed to supporting and empowering victims as part of ensuring every Minnesota feels safe in their community, and were proud to ensure this gap in funding isn’t felt by the victims.
Decreased Forensics Turnaround Time
The demands for forensic evidence testing and examination for exceed the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s capacity to process this, resulting in incredibly delayed turnaround time for forensic evidence. This delay hinders law enforcement’s ability to prosecute and stalls justice for victims. Senate DFLers as part of their commitment to an encompassing approach to public safety, made investments to greatly reduce these turnaround times, including for sexual assault exam kits.
Uniform Rape Kit Bill
Counties are currently responsible for paying for sexual assault exam kits, but with 87 counties in Minnesota this has resulted in a patchwork system that more often than not ends with the victim holding the bill for their own exam. Senate DFLers, in supporting victims, ensuring justice, and expanding how we address public safety, passed a bill to make the state responsible for all billing of sexual assault exam kits, removing the patchwork system and protecting victims in the process.
Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls
Only 7% of the population of Minnesota is Black women, but 40% of domestic violence victims in Minnesota are Black women. Black women are nearly 3 times as likely to be murdered in Minnesota as white women.
Senate DFLers established this session an Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls dedicated to preventing and ending the targeting of Black women and girls. Senate DFLers’ focus on public safety must include addressing the disparities in public safety.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Reward Fund
Based on a highly successful fund established in Duluth, Senate DFLers this year established a state-wide Gaagige-Mikwendaagoziwag Reward Fund, providing incentives for information to help solve cases of missing and murdered indigenous relatives. Senate DFLers’ focus on public safety must include addressing the disparities in public safety.
REHABILITATION AND REDUCING RECIDIVISM
Minnesota Rehabilitation and Reinvestment Act
Senate DFLers passed this year the Minnesota Rehabilitation and Reinvestment Act (MRRA), which reduces the length of incarceration for individuals who demonstrate their rehabilitation.
The act has four components – an individualized rehabilitation plan, which is a robust assessment that is used to set concrete, personalized rehabilitation goals; earned released, which lets participants earn earlier release by participating in prescribed rehabilitation programs, including substance use disorder treatment, mental health counseling, vocational skill training, and education; earned supervision abatement, which lets formerly incarcerated people earn a shortened period of community supervision, known as Supervision Abatement, by meeting goals of their release plan, including maintaining employment, chemical health aftercare programming, mental health follow-up counseling, and positive family and community reintegration; and the justice reinvestment fund, which invests savings from the reduction in incarceration in victim support services, supervision services, crime prevention and intervention initiatives, correctional programs, and the general fund.
We know incarceration works best when it is focused on rehabilitation and reducing recidivism, which in turn makes our communities safer. The MRRA does both.
Phone Calls for Individuals in Incarceration
Senate DFLers ensured individuals in incarceration are able to maintain contact with their families. Maintaining these connections are essential to rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.
Clean Slate Act
Minnesota’s approach to public safety must be comprehensive. This includes redemption for those who have paid their debts to society. This is the core of the Clean Slate Act passed this session by Senate DFLers. The bill establishes an automatic expungement process for certain non-violent offense, allowing individuals to fully contribute to society after paying their debts, without barriers to employment or housing.
Ban on Private Prisons
One of the core function of government is public safety, including incarceration, which must focus on rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. Private prisons run antithesis to this, putting profit above both. Senate DFLers are committed to public safety that moves our communities forward and invites everyone to contribute, which is why they passed a bill this year to ban private prisons in the state.
Reform For Aiding and Abetting Felony Murder Laws
Minnesota’s aiding and abetting felony murder laws allow people to be convicted of murder even if they did not kill anyone or intend for anyone to die. This has unjustly sentenced individuals for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Reform of this law has been bipartisan and years in the making, and Senate DFLers passed reform this year to ensure a fairer justice system that reflects the crimes actually committed.
SUPPORTING OUR COURTS SYSTEM
Public Defense Funding
The US Constitution requires Minnesota to provide lawyers to defendants who can’t afford them. Minnesota, however, has been underfunding this requirement for years under Republican control. Senate DFLers, however, committed to ensuring every Minnesotan is able to have their day in court, provided incredible support for the state’s public defenders, ensuring national caseload standards are able to be met and every Minnesotan is given the representation guaranteed to them by the Constitution.
Investments in Legal Aid
Civil legal aid lawyers in Minnesota represent low-income clients in non-criminal legal matters, but under years of Senate Republican control they’ve only been able to provide legal representation for 45% of Minnesotans asking for help. Senate DFLers were able to change that this year, providing support for the 26 nonprofit organizations providing civil legal services across the state. Public safety is expansive, and it includes our court systems and ensuring Minnesotans have representation when they most need it.
GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION
Generally on Gun Violence Prevention
- Mass shootings, including the recent ones in Allen Texas, Henryetta Oklahoma, and Nashville Tennessee have become the new normal in our country. This is unacceptable.
- The legislature needs to address the epidemic of senseless gun violence and keep our communities safe.
- There are sensible gun violence prevention measures that make our families, communities, and Minnesota safer, and we owe it to Minnesotans to have the conversations on these proposals.
- As of January 1, 2023 there were more mass shootings in the year than there were days in the year. This has remained true every day since. We need to address gun violence.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders
Tragic acts of gun violence, including mass shootings and gun suicides, are often preceded by red flags, threats of violence, dangerous behavior, and other indications that a person is a danger to themselves and others. Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws enable law enforcement officers and family members to seek an extreme risk protection order (“ERPO”), a court order temporarily removing guns from a person in crisis. This bill will save lives by creating a way to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies.
Like all of America, Minnesota is suffering from a gun suicide epidemic. Preventing a person with suicidal ideations from accessing guns can save their life. Under current state law, there are 13 defined categories of persons ineligible to possess ammunition or firearms; this bill would add a fourteenth category (ERPO). Between 2013 and 2017, over 3,600 Minnesota residents died by suicide and nearly half of all suicide deaths were carried out with a gun, killing more than 1,600 Minnesotans. On average, one Minnesota resident dies by suicide by firearm every day.
Expanded Background Checks
Current federal law only requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks on gun sales. That means criminals, domestic abusers, and people involuntarily committed due to mental health can avoid the very background checks designed to block them from getting guns by simply buying them from unlicensed sellers.
Senate DFLers passed a bill this year to expand background checks, ensuring we are keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, domestic abusers, and those who may harm themselves or others. The bill will also help address strawmen purchases and keep firearms out of the hands of people who are already prohibited from having them.