Minnesota House approves public safety bill 

police reform

Friday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the DFL-backed public safety and judiciary finance bill on a vote of 68-61. The package invests $200 million to help Minnesota tackle some of the largest challenges to keeping people and communities safe. 

The bill also funds justice system services for the first time in decades with $140 million in new investments.

Calling the measure “innovative,” the bill’s author, Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), said in a released statement, “Minnesota is facing some urgent public safety challenges, and people are counting on us to deliver comprehensive, innovative, statewide solutions. 

“While it builds capacity for law enforcement and traditional public safety institutions, our budget also builds capacity in community-based ideas and delivers resources to support the communities that need them most,” continued Rep. Mariani, chair of the House Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Committee. 

The budget includes the Public Safety Innovation Act, authored by Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL–New Hope), with $150 million worth of investments in expedited, data-driven strategies for communities to address increasing crime, hire additional personnel, and rebuild community trust. 

House DFLers are also working to advance juvenile justice measures including grants for prevention, intervention, mental health and wellness, including a prohibition on solitary confinement of juveniles, funding the Youth Conflict Resolution Center, investing in Youth Intervention Programs, and more.

“We’ve worked hard this session to put together a Public Safety bill that actually works to reduce crime, support law enforcement, and ensure that the system works for everyone in Minnesota,” said Rep. Frazier. 

“I’m grateful for the officers, community advocates, and expert researchers who have come forward to help us craft the best bill possible. It’s time to move toward new ideas rather than rehashing the tired policies of the past,” added Rep. Frazier. 

The budget invests in communities of color by establishing an Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls, a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives tip reward fund, and funding to create the Healing House, a space where Indigenous women involved in the justice system can receive trauma-informed support and get on the path to stability. 

Labor trafficking laws are also addressed in the bill, as well as accountability for people who commit domestic violence.

“All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities—no matter where we live or what we look like,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. 

The package includes numerous provisions to help those previously convicted of crimes turn their lives around following past mistakes, including the Clean Slate Act which removes barriers that make it difficult to access housing, education and employment. 

Additionally, the bill includes $4 million in additional direct assistance to crime victims, a measure authorizing the use of GPS devices to track stolen vehicles, funding to increase forensic and analytical capacity at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, an expanded definition of computer theft crimes, and more.

The bill also funds each sector of the justice system, which functions as a three legged stool made up of the Courts system, Public Defense, and Civil Legal Services. 

In addition, the bill eliminates fees for uncertified copies of public court documents, establishes an Office of Appellate Counsel for parents, and establishes increased ongoing funding for the Family Resiliency Partnership.

The Republican-controlled Senate has already passed its own “tough-on-crime” public safety bill that offers $100 million in statewide incentives for officer recruitment and retention and tougher penalties for certain offenses like carjacking while placing limits on prosecutorial and judicial discretion.

The two legislative bodies will need to reconcile the contrasting bills in order to pass a measure that addresses the state’s spike in crime.

This story was provided in part by the Minnesota House of Representatives.