The omnibus public safety and judiciary policy and finance law appropriates $2.64 billion in the 2022-23 biennium to fund the Department of Public Safety, Department of Corrections, Minnesota courts, civil legal services, Guardian ad Litem Board, Tax Court, Uniform Laws Commission, Board on Judicial Standards, Board of Public Defense, Human Rights Department, Peace Officers Standards and Training Board and sets funding in the Disaster Assistance Contingency Account.
The wide-ranging law makes several policy changes in these areas, including reforming civil asset forfeiture laws, establishing new procedures for using confidential jailhouse informants, prohibiting the use of restraints on children appearing in court, strengthening jail safety rules and changing criminal sexual assault statutes to permit prosecution of cases where victims were intoxicated through voluntary consumption.
Sponsored by Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), the law took effect July 1, 2021, unless otherwise noted.
All budget figures are for the 2022-23 biennium unless otherwise noted.
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2021 Special Session: SSHF63*/SSSFnone/SSCH11
Judiciary, civil law and courts
The law will give a 2.5% boost in salary to Supreme Court, District Court and Court of Appeals judges and employees, and a $5.7 million raise for civil legal services, which provides legal representation for low-income defendants in civil proceedings.
The law funds all the state courts:
• $655.5 million for District Courts;
• $122.1 million for the Supreme Court;
• $27.1 million for the Court of Appeals; and
• $1.8 million for the Tax Court.
Other judiciary appropriations are:
• $217.8 million for the Board of Public Defense;
• $44 million for the Guardian Ad Litem Board (includes a 2.5% salary increase);
• $10.9 million for the Department of Human Rights;
• $1.5 million for the Sentencing Guidelines Commission;
• $1.2 million for the Board of Judicial Standards; and
• $200,000 for the Uniform Laws Commission.
The law includes a fiscal year 2022 grant of $500,000 to improve courthouse security, $400,000 to increase salaries for courtroom foreign language interpreters and $931,000 to add a judge in the Fifth Judicial District.
Mostly effective July 1, 2021, collectively bargained salary increases for state employees represented by the Minnesota Law Enforcement Association is funded in the law. Also funded is salary supplements dating to July 1, 2019. (Art. 8, Secs. 1-16)
The law makes several crime-related changes, including:
• modifying rules for participating in the ignition interlock program;
• exempting a victim and someone acting in good faith who contacts a 911 operator or first responder to report a sexual assault victim is in need of assistance from charges and prosecution for the possession of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia or underage consumption of alcohol;
• effective Aug. 1, 2021, requiring the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate criminal sexual conduct cases in the Minnesota National Guard;
• effective Sept. 15, 2021, establishes new crimes of assaulting a peace officer or other criminal justice partner and inflicting great bodily harm, when committed with a dangerous weapon or through the use or attempted use of deadly force;
• effective Sept. 15, 2021, establishing a child torture crime with a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $35,000 fine;
• making it a gross misdemeanor to trespass at a facility that provides emergency shelter services for sex trafficking victims, or a facility that provides transitional housing to sex trafficking victims and their children;
• effective Sept. 15, 2021, making it a misdemeanor “to knowingly and without consent make publicly available, including but not limited to through the Internet, personal information about a law enforcement official or an official's family or household member”;
• establishing a crime of sexual extortion with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine;
• the Sentencing Guidelines Commission is to increase the severity rankings on the sex offender grid for certain child pornography cases;
• effective Sept. 15, 2021, changing criminal sexual assault statutes to permit prosecution of cases of victims intoxicated through voluntary consumption;
• effective July 1, 2022, a court can reduce or waive the surcharge imposed on criminal and traffic offenders based on their ability to pay. Community work service may be imposed in lieu of the surcharge;
• law enforcement agencies are to timely process a specific immigration-related request from victims of certain crimes who are foreign nationals;
• effective Sept. 15, 2021, adds new crimes for sexual extortion, first-degree criminal sexual misconduct, criminalizes additional situations involving educators who engage in sexual acts with secondary school students, expands the definition of significant relationship and increases penalties for caregivers and others who engage in sexual acts with patient;
• a predatory offender working group is to “examine and assess the predatory offender
registration (POR) laws, including, but not limited to, the requirements placed on offenders,
the crimes for which POR is required, the method by which POR requirements are applied
to offenders, and the effectiveness of the POR system in achieving its stated purpose”;
• effective Jan. 1, 2022, reforming civil asset forfeiture laws; and
• prohibiting the use of restraints on children appearing in court. (Art. 1, Sec. 14; Art. 2, Secs. 3-9, 16, 27, 31, 34, 39-41, 52; Art. 3, Sec. 11; Art. 4, Secs. 16-20, 23, 30; Art. 5, Secs. 1-22; Art. 9, Sec. 20)
A Legislative Commission on Data Practices and Personal Data Privacy is created “to study issues relating to government data practices and individuals' personal data privacy rights and to review legislation impacting data practices, data security, and personal data privacy.” This took effect July 1, 2021. (Art. 3, Secs. 1, 36)
The law funds the Department of Public Safety with a $427.2 million appropriation in the 2022-23 biennium.
Notable appropriations include:
• $155.3 million for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension;
• $135.8 million for Emergency Communication Networks;
• $94.6 million for Office of Justice Programs;
• $8 million to create a “Hometown Heroes” assistance program to, in part, provide a onetime critical illness monetary support payment to a firefighter diagnosed with cancer or heart disease and who applies for the payment, and develop a psychotherapy program customized to address emotional trauma experienced by firefighters;
• $6.2 million for the Homeland Security and Emergency Management;
• $5.4 million for Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement;
• $2 million for additional violent crime enforcement teams;
• $1 million to establish the Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives;
• $570,000 for the Private Detective Board; and
• $150,000 to implement a new Task Force on Missing and Murdered African American Women.
BCA funding includes $4.2 million for staff and technology costs to meet FBI cybersecurity requirements, $3.7 million for salary increases and $602,000 to purchase and maintain body cameras for special agents.
The new law also provides $876,000 to fund body cameras for DNR conservation officers and $32,000 for Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division officer body cameras.
Several policy provisions in the law are police reform measures, including:
• requiring 911 operators to refer calls to mental health crisis teams in certain situations;
• regulating the use of no-knock warrants, effective Sept. 1, 2021;
• requiring “sign and release” warrants for certain infractions, such as missing a court appearance. This applies to warrants issued on or after Jan. 1, 2024; and
• mandating policy reforms and strengthening standards to improve safety for inmates and staff in state and local correctional facilities – the Hardel Sherrell Act. This is effective Aug. 1, 2021. (Art. 2, Secs. 12, 22, 50; Art. 9, Secs. 5-10, 23, 30)
Other public safety policy changes include:
• directing the state fire marshal and Department of Labor and Industry to issue building-specific waivers for any elements of the state fire or building codes that conflict with a federally recognized tribe’s religious beliefs, traditional building practices or established teachings;
• the state court administrator is to conduct a feasibility study on requiring the courts to order individuals convicted of felonies to undergo a neuropsychological examination;
• establishment of a 911 telecommunicator working group to, in part, recommend standards, training and continuing education requirements for certification of 911 telecommunicators; and
• creating a task force on aiding and abetting felony murder “to collect and analyze data on the charging, convicting, and sentencing of people for aiding and abetting felony murder; assess whether current laws and practices promote public safety and equity in sentencing; and make recommendations to the legislature.” (Art. 2, Secs. 17, 19, 46-47, 53)
Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training
Of the $23.1 million the POST Board is to receive to regulate education, selection, licensing and training standards for the state’s more than 11,800 police officers, $5.9 million is to be used to reimburse local governments for police officer training costs.
The POST Board must use $12 million of its funds to support and strengthen law enforcement training and implement best practices such as crisis intervention, de-escalation and cultural competency. The “Philando Castile Memorial Training Fund” will receive another $12 million in the 2024-25 biennium.
The new law mandates several new duties and policy changes for the POST Board, including:
• personal phone numbers and email addresses of law enforcement officers is classified as private data;
• effective Aug. 1, 2021, police chiefs must report all disciplinary actions taken against police officers for the purpose of identifying patterns of behavior suggesting an officer is in crisis or may violate a board-mandated model policy;
• effective Aug. 1, 2021, creation of a list of approved trainers and training courses related to police officers responding to individuals with mental illness or Alzheimer’s disease; and
• establishing new policies addressing the use of confidential informants by law enforcement – Matthew’s Law. (Art. 9, Secs. 26-30)
The Department of Corrections will receive $1.27 billion to operate the state’s 11 prisons, of which $931 million is for incarceration and pre-release services, $276 million for community supervision and post-release services and $63.2 million for general operations.
Of the total Department of Corrections appropriation, the new law specifies spending:
• $418 million for salary increases;
• $3.2 million for ongoing technology needs;
• $2.3 million for supplemental probation officer reimbursements to Meeker, Mille Lacs and Renville counties;
• $1.5 million to expand and improve oversight of jails;
• $300,000 for a grant to a nonprofit organization to provide curriculum and corporate mentors to inmates and assist inmates in finding meaningful employment upon release;
• $200,000 to implement the “Healthy Start Act” to create a release program for pregnant women and new mothers; and
• $37,000 to provide a one-month supply of medications and a refillable prescription to inmates at the time of their release.
New or modified policies for the Department of Corrections, each effective Aug. 1, 2021, unless noted, include:
• requiring the department to maintain annual statistics and provide them in an annual report;
• establishing a clear process for the department to revoke a license of any correctional facility in the state for inmate safety violations;
• requiring the department to prepare an annual report to the Legislature with statistics on inmate deaths, the use of force, suicide attempts and other data;
• mandating that inmate death reports must use an objective, medical expert and/or mental health expert, assess for preventable mortality and morbidity within 90 days of death and report to the department any recommendations for changes in policy, procedure, or training to reduce the number of future fatalities; and
• effective July 1, 2021, limiting when harmful or deadly force can be used on an inmate, and adds a duty to report within 24 hours if an employee witnesses an impermissible use of such force. (Art. 9, Sec. 4, 7-11, 16, 18)
Disaster Assistance Contingency Account
The Disaster Assistance Contingency Account was created in 2014 to provide immediate disaster response funding without further legislative action. Prior to its creation, the Legislature would need to convene, often in a special session, every time a disaster was declared to appropriate money toward response efforts.
The new law appropriates $30 million to the account, but only if the fiscal year 2021 final closing balance in the General Fund exceeds the closing balance projected at the end of the 2021 first special legislative session by at least $30 million. (Art. 1, Sec. 21)