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House passes $7.8 million in funding for police response to civil unrest

House Photography file photo

— Updated at 7:36 p.m. to reflect governor's action

The House passed legislation Tuesday that would make $7.8 million in funding available to support law enforcement agencies responding to potential civil unrest.

Passed 107-25 a couple hours after the Senate amended the bill and passed it 52-15, Gov. Tim Walz signed HF729 into law Tuesday night.

Requested by Walz, the bill would appropriate $1.5 million in fiscal year 2021 “for costs directly attributable to requesting additional public safety assistance for civil unrest through the Interstate Emergency Management Assistance Compact.”

An additional $6.3 million would be appropriated in fiscal year 2021 from the General Fund to pay for state trooper and DNR conservation officer expenses related to civil unrest, including costs arising from restoring or maintaining civil order.

Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee, and sponsor of the bill, urged passage even though it does not have language tying the funding to assurances that police would honor the First Amendment right of protesters, something he has strongly advocated for.

“I believe that Minnesotans accept that we have to have change in policing,” he said. “And I also believe that Minnesotans want policing to continue, to be present and to be effective, and to be focused on human rights.”

Twenty-five DFL members voted against the bill, 23 of whom are from the Twin Cities area. Some of those members have previously said they oppose more law enforcement funding that does not also include police reform and accountability measures.

Republican support was unanimous.

“I am glad that today we are reaffirming our commitment to the men and women of law enforcement,” said Rep. Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring). “That we can come together and make sure they have the resources needed to respond now and in the future.”

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