By Esme Murphy

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — The GOP minority in the Minnesota House announced a slate of bills Monday aimed at reducing violent crime in Minneapolis and St. Paul and on the Metro Transit system, drawing a sharp retort from Democratic Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

The proposals include higher penalties for gang members who use guns in crimes, boosting funding against gangs and drug trafficking, requiring major sports and entertainment venues to have sufficient police nearby, and increased enforcement on the light rail system.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, of Crown, and other Republican leaders said at a news conference that it’s not just an issue for Minneapolis and St. Paul. They said their constituents from greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities suburbs worry about their safety when attending sporting and entertainment events in the cities.

The lawmakers representing non-urban areas of the state said their constituents are loathe to take the light rail, in the wake of surveillance images showing incidents of assault.

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, said he hopes the bills will start a conversation on how the Legislature can support local law enforcement and, if needed, compel cities to direct more resources against gangs, violet crime and crime on the transit system.

But Frey, also present at the conference, accused the Republican lawmakers of trying to make public safety a partisan issue, and accused them of spreading misinformation while providing too little financial assistance.

Frey and House Republicans actually agreed that public safety is and should be a non-partisan issue, but both sides seemed ready to leverage the issue in an election year. All 201 member of the Minnesota House and Senate are up for election in November.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Esme Murphy