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Minnesota Legislature

‘Modest’ public safety, corrections policy bill OK’d in House

The long arm of the law may reach ever farther.

Under current law, DNR conservation officers only have the authority to enforce provisions of the DWI chapter against individuals who are hunting while under the influence, or while operating off-road recreational vehicles or motorboats.

Passed 130-2 by the House on Sunday, HF3391/SF3258* would remove those limits and give conservation officers the same DWI arrest authority as other Minnesota peace officers.

The provision is one part of what Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) calls “a modest public safety and corrections policy bill.” Nonetheless, Mariani, who sponsors the legislation with Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), said it is filled with good provisions.

Its next stop is Gov. Tim Walz. It was unanimously passed by the Senate May 14.

The bill would also make several other policy changes to public safety and civil law statutes.


Feminine hygiene products for prisoners

It would direct the Department of Corrections to provide “a reasonable number” of free feminine hygiene products, including at a minimum sanitary napkins and tampons, to female inmates housed in state correctional facilities.

Language in this provision came from HF3772, sponsored by Rep. Shelly Christensen (DFL-Stillwater).


Flying drones over prisons criminalized

Coming from HF3911, sponsored by Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL-St. Cloud), a misdemeanor crime of operating a drone in the airspace above a state prison or other state correctional facility would be created.

It would be a gross misdemeanor to use a drone, called an “unmanned aerial vehicle” in state law, to record images or to introduce contraband into a prison.


Changing YIP grant requirements

Under current law, community-based non-profit youth services programs can receive Youth Intervention Programs grants through the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Programs provided the community programs match those grants dollar-for-dollar.

The bill would eliminate, through calendar year 2020, the local match requirement for YIP grants to community programs that have had to suspend or severely limit their programming in response to the COVID-19 peacetime emergency declared in March.

Other provisions in the bill would:

  • change the name of the Department of Corrections’ American Indian Counseling Program to the American Indian Cultural Program;
  • require certain contractors to undergo criminal background checks before they can access the state’s Criminal Justice Data Communications Network; and
  • change the formula the Corrections Department uses to charge counties to house juvenile inmates at its Red Wing facility.


What’s in the bill?

These are some of the House bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus public safety and corrections policy bill:


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