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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL)

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Legislative Update- June 11, 2020

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Rep. Stephenson

 

Dear Neighbors,

Yesterday, Governor Walz called legislators to reconvene at the Capitol for a special session this Friday, June 12 at noon.

COVID-19 has upended everybody’s lives and my key focus for the special session will be delivering solutions that provide robust economic relief for our communities and businesses. It’s imperative we keep working to help those who are struggling to make their next rent or mortgage payment, students who depend on broadband access to connect to their schools and teachers, the smallest businesses that have been denied any financial assistance, and PCAs who continue to provide care to the most vulnerable during this pandemic. I am very hopeful that my bill to provide assistance to small businesses will pass very early in the session.

A jobs and local projects or “bonding” bill will also be important to help our economy recover and create sorely needed jobs. I’ll continue advocating for our community’s priorities to be included in a final bill, like a lane addition to Highway 10, rebuilding Mississippi Point Park, making critical repairs to Anoka-Ramsey Community College, and more.

As the world watched George Floyd die at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, we are morally obligated to reimagine how we can make positive change in our public safety systems. Last week, my colleagues in the legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus shared their legislative response to criminal justice reform. You can watch their press conference here.

Today, the POCI Caucus joined Governor Walz, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, House Speaker Hortman, Senate Minority Leader Kent to announce their proposals to Minnesota:

Use of Force Reform of the keystone statute that defines when law enforcement is justified in using deadly force to prioritize sanctity of life. This measure is a recommendation from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety/Attorney General Working Group.

Alternatives to Policing Creates new models of ensuring public safety by: 1) Creating a new office within DPS to administer grants to community-based violence-intervenors and problem solvers to intercept violence and reduce interactions with law enforcement, and 2) Providing funding for a co-responder form of policing that pairs officers with social worker when responding to crisis calls and welfare checks. This measure is a recommendation from the MN Department of Public Safety/Attorney General Working Group.

Police Oversight Reform  Creates a robust framework of accountability of the law enforcement profession through: 1) Expansion of the Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) board and creation of a Police-Community Relations Council at the POST Board, 2) Reforming how arbitrations of the termination of law enforcement officers are handled, and 3) Requiring robust, real-time data collection and analysis of complaint, discipline and use of force data and use it to inform reforms at the POST Board, particularly as it relates to licensure decisions. Voting Restoration Ends the disenfranchisement of over 50,000 Minnesotans. Those who are not serving a sentence in a prison facility – who are in their communities and contributing to their families and rebuilding their lives – must be provided their right to vote, regardless of supervision status.

Community Healing Creates a grant program to fund professional community healers trained to respond to systemic oppression-induced historic and present-day trauma through supportive services. This measure is a recommendation from the DPS/AG Working Group.

Independent Prosecution and Investigation Reform Provides the AG with independent jurisdiction for the prosecution of police-involved deaths and create an independent investigation unit within Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for police-involved cases. This measure is a recommendation from the DPS/AG Working Group. Training Expansion Expands training in de-escalation and mental health crisis intervention. This measure is a recommendation from the DPS/AG Working Group.

Warrior Training and Choke Holds Prohibited Prohibits the use of all restraints or holds by law enforcement that purposely restrict a person’s airways or blood flow and ends the use of warrior-style training.

The Governor stated today that all these proposals could look different in different communities across the state. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more.


 

Keep in Touch

Please contact me at rep.zack.stephenson@house.mn with your feedback, thoughts or questions. I always appreciate hearing from you and having the opportunity to provide assistance- especially during these difficult times.

It’s an honor to serve our Coon Rapids and Champlin communities in St. Paul.

Sincerely,

Zack Stephenson

State Representative

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