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Minnesota Legislature

Public safety bill that ‘scratched the surface’ gets House, Senate approval and heads to governor

Rep. Carlos Mariani, chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division, describe provisions of the omnibus public safety and judiciary bill during special session floor debate May 25. Photo by Paul Battaglia

The contentious omnibus judiciary and public safety finance bill passed the House after 2:15 a.m. Saturday with kudos for an improved agreement from the bill that left the House in the regular session. Still, there were plenty of comments focused on the long-standing divisions that have followed it throughout the process.

The House vote on the bill was 87-39; the Senate passed the bill earlier in the one-day special session 67-0. It now heads to the governor. Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) are the sponsors.

Mariani spoke highly of some provisions in the bill, but also lamented some lost opportunities on issues like cannabis reform, probation reform and a pair of highly contentious gun-control provisions that the House wanted, but were removed by a conference committee.

“This session, through a community-centered lens, we’ve heard from many Minnesotans about the impact of our criminal justice system, and have highlighted numerous ways in which we can reimagine public safety in our state. I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface in these efforts,” Mariani said in a statement. “There’s still a great deal of work to do, especially regarding senseless gun violence, the need to decriminalize poverty and fixing the flaws in our probation system. The work on these and other issues is not over as we build a safer, more just state.”

What’s in the bill?

The bill details how the state will spend $2.48 billion during the 2020-21 biennium to fund corrections, public safety programs and courts across the state.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

House provisions retained in the omnibus bill include (dollar amounts are for the biennium):

What’s not in the bill?

House provisions omitted in the omnibus bill include:

Funding for the disaster assistance contingency account that was in the House omnibus public safety and criminal justice reform finance bill is not included in the final agreement, but is included in the omnibus transportation finance and policy division bill.

“Ensuring Minnesotans can remain safe in their communities is one of our core responsibilities of state government, and our Public Safety and Judiciary budget makes the necessary investments to provide for this,” Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) said in a statement.


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