For more information contact: DJ Danielson 651-296-8879
It was great to see so many of you at the Town Hall Meeting on Saturday. Sen. Eaton, Rep. Nelson and I were all impressed with the great questions, and we all appreciate the valuable input we received from the community.
Public Safety Bill
We continue to put together the state budget by considering the various finance bills put forth by the House Majority. Last week, we passed the bills covering Taxes, E-12 Education, Transportation, and the Environment. Monday of this week, we considered the House Omnibus Public Safety Bill. Non-partisan “Session Daily” summarized the discussion of this bill.
This bill funds operations for our state prisons, the courts, and agencies such as the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in order to keep Minnesotans safe and ensure justice and fairness for everyone. Most years, this bill is one of the more bipartisan finance bills all session. Unfortunately, this bill contained some controversial pieces. The bill puts the state of Minnesota in business with a private prison corporation that has a terrible track record. Private prisons are run with a motive of profit rather rehabilitating offenders and preparing them to rejoin society. They increase recidivism, endanger staff and offenders alike, and lack necessary treatment and programming.
The bill also included an increase in criminal penalties for those who participate in protests. The rights of Americans to assemble are guaranteed under the First Amendment and the government should not penalize Americans for exercising this right. The Republican anti-protest provision of this bill is aimed at curbing free speech and throwing protesters in jail. I hope we work more on protecting Minnesotans and reforming our criminal justice system, and not divisive policies like this.
Higher Education Bill
Tuesday, we considered the House Higher Education Bill. This bill underfunds our public colleges and universities, and lacks adequate funding for the Minnesota State Grant Program. It also contained a troubling piece that could allow for-profit schools convicted of fraud to stay open.
Globe University shut down operations in 2016 after the institution was found guilty of fraud. The university provided degrees that were essentially worthless leaving graduates with nothing but piles of debt. They recruited over 1,200 students to their law enforcement program, for which they received millions of dollars in taxpayer funded student aid. In particular, they targeted veterans eligible for the GI Bill. After working hard to obtain the degree it turns out graduates from this program weren’t even eligible to take the peace officer exam in Minnesota.
I had an amendment to remove any possible loophole as to whether these schools could operate in Minnesota. Unfortunately, this wasn’t adopted. The Pioneer Press wrote about this, and you can read the article here. I will continue efforts to hold institutions like this accountable.
Here are some highlights (and lowlights) or other omnibus budget bills:
Today we are considering the Health and Human Services Bill, the last of the major budget bills. Next week the Legislature will take the customary Easter/Passover recess which means there will be no legislative activity. I hope you will stay in touch with your input about these issues; feel free to keep me posted with your concerns and feedback.
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