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RELEASE: Reps. Liebling and Boldon vote for House Public Safety, Judiciary and Civil Law Budget

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. Today, a day after the guilty verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minnesota House of Representatives advanced a major finance bill containing Public Safety, Criminal Justice Reform, Judiciary and Civil Law legislation. The bill increases law enforcement accountability while also increasing investments in public safety. It expands justice for survivors of sexual assault and helps communities keep their neighborhoods safe. The bill also focuses on reducing racial bias, decriminalizing poverty, and ensuring that all Minnesotans get equitable treatment under our justice system.

“Our work last summer following the killing of George Floyd was only the beginning of our efforts to put human rights and dignity at the center of public safety, ensure that police officers who commit misconduct can be held accountable, and restore confidence in policing,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL - Rochester). “The funding and reforms in our House DFL public safety budget will help every Minnesotan be safer in their community, no matter where they live or how they look.”

"Our Public Safety Omnibus bill is a step in making the necessary systemic changes that will make Minnesota a more just and equitable state for everyone. After a year of turmoil and demand for action, it is clear we cannot postpone our pursuit of racial justice any longer," said Rep. Liz Boldon (DFL - Rochester). "I am proud that we are taking decisive action to ensure that all people are valued and treated fairly by the law."

The legislation contains significant new investments in tools for law enforcement, including $14 million over the next four years for local police to issue body-worn cameras, reform-focused training, and updating policies. While including these important investments, it also builds upon the work of the Minnesota Police Accountability Act, enacted in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd, to further strengthen the police officer misconduct database in building a more effective early warning intervention system to eliminate and correct harmful practices. It also allows local units of government to establish civilian oversight councils and funds community organizations working to prevent crime in their communities while addressing the need for community healing after traumatic events. To prevent white supremacist causes from infiltrating law enforcement, the bill prohibits peace officers from associating with such hateful, intimidating, and often violent groups.

There are provisions that require the courts to consider the potential for financial hardship on Minnesotans before increasing fines or fees, ensuring that low-income Minnesotans aren’t punished disproportionately. Significantly, this bill contains critical legislation that prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their pay history, which is a critical step in closing the gender pay gap.

The bill includes a series of major updates to Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct code recommended by a survivor-led working group established in a prior legislative session to address old approaches to these crimes which create barriers for survivors to receive justice. One such example closes the “voluntary intoxication” statutory loophole, which a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision was forced to accept involving prosecuting a sexual assault case where the law deemed “mentally incapacitated” to not include a person who became intoxicated after voluntarily consuming alcohol. It also prevents sexual extortion and includes a series of measures to protect children.

The bill language is available here. The spreadsheet can be found here. A video recording of today’s floor debate is available on the House Public Information YouTube channel.