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.
The legislation, SF970, also includes funding for the School Safety Center, the POST Board, Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Rights, and more. The bill includes most of the language from HF 707, the House’s bill that contains the recommendations from the criminal sexual conduct statutory reform working group. It also fixes the language around “mentally incapacitated” that was raised in the recent State v. Khalil Supreme Court case. The bill also includes the Veteran’s Restorative Justice Act.
The omnibus bill fails to include significant policy reform to criminal justice or police accountability issues.
Following passage of the bill Senator Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), ranking DFL-lead of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, released the following statement:
“This bill provides measured but not fully sufficient funding increases for our courts and agencies and addresses a language deficiency in state law revealed by the recent State vs. Khalil Supreme Court case. This and the inclusion of the other statutory reforms recommended by the Criminal Sexual Conduct Working Group is a major advance that will help victims of sexual assault get the justice they deserve. I am also pleased that we were able to add substantial pieces on the floor of the Senate, including lifting the statute of limitations for criminal charges of criminal sexual conduct offenses and the Veteran’s Restorative Justice.
“However, this bill falls far short in the policy changes we need to address the inequities of our criminal justice system. Despite the promises that were made last summer to continue working on policing and public safety reforms, the Senate Majority – and in particular the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee – has yet to hear any legislation that builds on the small steps already taken. While the Senate Majority has now – belatedly and under pressure – agreed to have hearings on criminal justice reform, we need more than just ‘hearing’ proposals. We also need more than just more fact-finding on riots, as Majority Leader Gazelka characterized it. He needs to demonstrate his commitment to racial justice by action, not words. History will judge him and his caucus by his deeds in this moment of our time.
“I voted in favor of the bill so that I may continue to advocate for these changes in conference committee.”