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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, June 19, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

Yesterday, House Democrats brought their police reform and criminal justice legislation to the Floor for a vote. The package of proposals was in response to the tragic death of George Floyd. Sadly I am disappointed that instead of working to build consensus, Democrats put forward partisan proposals, some of which didn’t have anything to do with police reform. 

To be clear, there were proposals in the bill that I agree with or believe would be positive public policy for the state to enact. Unfortunately, there were too many poison pills in the bill to gain my support.

You can watch my comments from the House floor on this bill here or by clicking the photo below.

Here are a few provisions that I found particularly objectionable:

  • Restoring voting rights for felons upon release from prison — even if the individual re-offends.
  • An Officer-Involved Death Review Board with broad powers to non-public data, subpoena power, and exemptions from the State’s open meeting law that would recommend systemwide changes.
  • Exceptions to state statute prohibiting cities and counties from implementing residency requirements. Minneapolis already is struggling to fill offer vacancies, a task that would be made even more difficult if residency requirements were implemented.
  • Citizen oversight councils would be given power over agencies and individual peace officers that could curtail due process for law enforcement. This could put citizens who belong to the “Defund Police” movement in charge of overseeing our law enforcement agencies.
  • Turning over prosecution of officer-involved deaths to the MN Attorney General. This would diminish the power of locally elected, non-partisan County Attorneys who already can request assistance from the Attorney General if the want to do so.
  • Elimination of cash bail for many offenses — New York City eliminated cash bail in 2019, and even Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio has already back-tracked on his support for this measure. 

The bill ultimately represents a significant missed opportunity to pass common sense policy that would improve transparency, accountability, and training for law enforcement.

One specific proposal that I would have liked to see included was to move public employee grievances from arbitration to the Office of Administration. This change would make it easier for law enforcement to terminate “bad apples” or officers that engage in bad conduct. Former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said in an interview that the arbitration process prevented her from firing officers who had repeatedly violated department policies. 

Here in our communities, we are fortunate to have a professional law enforcement teams that serve our area and county with dignity and respect.

Unfortunately, so much of the rhetoric and public discourse these days cast all law enforcement in a negative light. Fortunately, and rightly, the vast majority of our community stands behind law enforcement and I thank them and their families for keeping us all safe and the sacrifices they make.

Have a great weekend,

Glenn

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