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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL)

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RELEASE: Minnesota House Expected to Approve New Public Safety and Judiciary Budget; Gun Violence Prevention Measures Included

Monday, April 29, 2019

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota House tonight is expected to pass a new two-year Public Safety and Judiciary budget. The bill includes funding for corrections, the courts, criminal apprehension, human rights protections and many other areas, along with investments in a safer, more just Minnesota.

The budget includes two significant measures to prevent gun violence in Minnesota. One would require criminal background checks to be performed prior to all gun sales and another would provide for Extreme Risk Protection Orders, allowing law enforcement to restrict access to firearms if a court determines a person may be a threat to themselves or others. A fact sheet about steps other states have taken to address gun violence is available here.

“All Minnesotans deserve to feel safe at school, at work, while worshipping, and everywhere else in their community,” said Rep. Jen Schultz (DFL – Duluth). “The overdue, common-sense gun violence prevention legislation we’re passing today will help save lives.”

“The House DFL has recognized how high of a priority addressing the gun violence epidemic is for Minnesotans,” said Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Duluth), the House Majority Whip. “Background checks and Red Flag laws are two steps widely supported by Minnesotans – including gun owners – to keep people safe.”

Following the tragic loss of two corrections officers within the last year in Minnesota prisons, the budget strengthens safety by investing in new correctional officer positions. It also re-establishes the Department of Corrections’ Ombudsman to take complaints, conduct investigations, and make recommendations regarding our prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities. House DFLers are also banning private prisons, which are motivated by profit and not safety or offender outcomes.

The budget incorporates several gender-based violence prevention measures, including a working group charged with reforming the state criminal sexual conduct statute, elimination of the statute of limitations for criminal sexual conduct, repeal of the marital rape exemption, and the establishment of a task force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Measures to help prevent and address sexual assault include notice requirements of predatory offender status for home care providers, broadening the definition of “position of authority,” and requiring police departments to have written policies for investigating sexual assault cases.

After listening to Minnesotans, House DFLers are advancing the conversation about cannabis. A Cannabis Task Force established in the budget would be charged with studying how the potential legal, personal use of cannabis would work in Minnesota regarding public safety, public health, tax policy, and regulatory oversight. The budget also includes new graduated penalties for certain marijuana offenses along with the decriminalization of cannabidiol.

Other highlights of the Public Safety and Judiciary budget include:

  • Increases in funding for the state’s courts, including new psychological services, expansion of treatment courts, and new judge positions
  • Funding for additional public defender positions to address high caseloads
  • Reforms to Minnesota’s probation system, include a cap of five years except for the most serious offenses
  • Discretion for judges to reduce or waive fines and fees for traffic, parking and minor criminal violations based on financial hardship
  • A variety of police officer professional development initiatives.
  • Limits on the use of cash bail
  • Increased funding for the Department of Human Rights, including new offices across the state
  • New or expanded penalties for drunk or distracted driving in certain circumstances
  • Reforms of the use of solitary confinement
  • An update to Minnesota’s sexual harassment law to strengthen protections against such behavior in workplaces, previously passed by the House
  • Creation of the Legislative Commission on Intelligence and Technology
  • Strengthened cybersecurity for the court system

The Minnesota Senate passed their insufficient Public Safety and Judiciary budget last week, which fails to adequately fund public safety, fails to address common-sense gun violence prevention, and fails to fully fund constitutional mandates.

Lawmakers from each chamber will form a conference committee to craft consensus legislation.