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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL)

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RELEASE: Minnesota House approves compromise Public Safety and Judiciary budget

Saturday, May 25, 2019

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota House approved the final version of the Omnibus Public Safety and Judiciary Finance bill early Saturday morning. The budget includes $125 million in new investments in the courts, correctional facilities, criminal apprehension, human rights protections and many other areas to keep Minnesotans safe and ensure they have access to justice.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans blocked a pair of initiatives to curb senseless gun violence this session. Despite the support of as many as 90 percent of Minnesotans, Republicans refused to establish “red flag” laws and expand criminal background checks for firearm purchases. House DFLers remain committed to preventing gun violence and keeping Minnesotans safe at school, at work, while worshiping, or anywhere else in their communities.

“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,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani, Chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division. “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.”

“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,” said Rep. John Lesch (DFL – Saint Paul), chair of the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division. “Minnesotans still face too many inequities and barriers to justice throughout our courts and criminal justice system, and looking ahead, I’ll keep working to remove these.”

House DFLers worked to lift up the voices of victims and survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence, and were successful in including a number of key provisions in the budget to ensure justice for such heinous, unimaginable crimes. These included a new task force on Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, creation of a workgroup to examine the state’s entire criminal sexual conduct statute, elimination of the nonconsensual buttocks touching exemption from the criminal sexual conduct law and others.

Senate Republicans however stood with corporate special interests and blocked an overdue update to the state’s sexual harassment law despite broad, bipartisan support in the House. All Minnesotans deserve workplaces and communities free of sexual harassment and discrimination, and DFLers won’t stop working to make that a reality.

Senate Republicans also failed to advance progress on several community-centered improvements to Minnesota’s probation system. Minnesota has wide racial and geographic disparities is ranked fifth among all states in percentage of residents who are on probation, diverting attention from high-risk offenders. House DFLers held moving public hearings with testimony from those affected by our current flawed system on proposals such as a five-year cap on probation terms and requiring the Sentencing Guidelines Commission to presumptive probation term for offenders based on the characteristics of the offense and the offender. These reforms are supported by organizations as ideologically diverse as the ACLU, NAACP, ALEC, and the Koch Brothers. Nevertheless, Senate Republicans failed to consider them.

The bill language is available here, and a spreadsheet of funding provisions is available here.