My heart breaks for the family and friends of Daunte Wright, who was killed at the hands of police last Sunday in Brooklyn Center. As our country’s modern history demonstrates, the public safety systems that were created date back well before the Jim Crow era and since then, our police structure has failed too many Black men and children. As legislators, community members, neighbors, and parents, we can make positive, long overdue change to update and reimagine our public safety in Minnesota that ensures everyone can get home safely. You can read the statement the United Black Legislative Caucus released here.
This session, the work continues to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone – whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural area – with no exceptions. Our Public Safety and Judiciary Budget bill contains measures to:
- Strengthen the role of local citizen oversight councils in matters of police misconduct;
- Fund local organizations working to prevent crime in their communities while addressing the need for community healing after a traumatic event;
- Prohibit white supremacists from becoming peace officers;
- Restrict the use of no-knock warrants;
- Prohibit altering or destroying body cam footage, and require footage to be shared with family no more than 48 hours after a deadly force incident;
- Strengthen the police officer misconduct database to build a more effective early warning intervention system to keep bad officers off the streets;
- Require 911 operators to refer calls involving mental health crises to mental health crisis teams when appropriate;
- Require development of a model policy on police response to public assemblies;
- Require the Peace Officer Standards Training Board to prioritize the goal of promoting public safety, including the promotion of human rights — i.e., maintaining the basic rights, freedoms, and privileges that belong to every person including the right to dignity, fairness, equality, respect, and freedom from discrimination;
- Eliminate the statutes of limitations in cases involving an alleged sexual assault or alleged act that results in a wrongful death by a peace officer.
Last week, we started the process of debating and voting on the bills that encompass a new state budget. Here are some highlights from the legislation we approved.
In 2008, Minnesotans voted to adopt the Legacy Amendment, which increased sales taxes by three-eighths of one percent. The revenue this constitutional amendment generates is divided between four funds. Sixty-six percent of the revenue is split evenly between the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Clean Water Fund, 19.75 percent goes to the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and the Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent. All of these funds are appropriated every two years except the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which is appropriated annually.
The 2021 Legacy bill reflects our commitment to ensuring that Legacy Amendment funds benefit all Minnesotans and takes important steps to address racial and cultural inequities.
Thursday evening, the House of Representatives approved the Housing Bill, which funds a variety of programs aimed at helping create more affordable housing, and provisions to ensure Minnesotans can have the safe, secure, and affordable housing they deserve. Minnesota was experiencing an affordable housing crisis well before COVID-19. Now, that crisis has intensified, and we need to invest in innovative solutions to take on housing insecurity.
Measures in the bill include those to:
- Fund the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) for specific programs;
- Establish the lead safe homes grant program;
- A task force on shelter resident rights and shelter provider practices;
- Investments in various affordable housing related programs;
- Provisions related to the Minnesota Bond Allocation Act, residential rental housing/landlord and tenant law, and manufactured housing.
State Government, Elections and Veterans
As our state continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Government, Elections, and Veterans bill includes investments in the responsive state government Minnesotans deserve to meet this moment and assist in our economic recovery. The bill also invests in Minnesota’s veterans with additional funding for our state veterans’ homes, funding to help end veteran homelessness, strategies to prevent veteran suicide, and a pathway for veterans who have been charged with crimes stemming from service-related trauma to get mental health or substance abuse help as an alternative to incarceration. The bill also includes several provisions to strengthen our democracy and elections including those to solidify and expand Minnesota’s nation-leading election administration system. These measures include provisions restoring the vote to ex-offenders on probation, making Minnesota’s Automatic Voter Registration more efficient and effective, and reforming Minnesota’s campaign finance disclosure system to make it more transparent.
Minnesotans expect our roads and bridges to be safe and efficient, but across the state, our transportation infrastructure continues to deteriorate. Many bridges are near collapse. Our transportation budget makes direct investments in transportation to address the long-term safety risk posed by our aging roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure. The bill helps Minnesota grow our multimodal transportation system to help people get where they need to go no matter where they live, with investments in including pedestrian and bike infrastructure, transit investments in both the metro and greater Minnesota, road safety improvements, rail projects, and more.
Keep in Touch
Please contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4192 with questions or input. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any assistance.
It’s an honor to serve our Inver Grove Heights, Mendota Heights, Eagan and Sunfish Lake neighbors at the State Capitol.
Have a safe week.