MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —Negotiations continue late Monday during the special session at the Minnesota State Capitol about a police reform bill.
According to sources on both sides, they tentatively have agreed to a ban on chokeholds and warrior training; agreed that officers should honor the sanctity of life; and that there is a duty for officers to intervene. They are also in favor of the creation of a 15-member advisory council that would report to the POST Board. Click here to read the bill.
The fragility of this possible deal is evident in a comment WCCO got late Monday afternoon from Republican Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michele Benson.
“There is a framework of an agreement, and as we all know the devil is in the details, this framework has been solidifying over the past few days,” Benson said.
WCCO was not able to speak with members of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus, who are the representatives that have spent countless hours working on a police reform bill.
The bill needs a simple majority to pass in both the House and Senate. House Democratic Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said earlier Monday that negotiations had been moving forward, albeit slowly.
“We are working on final language for a police accountability reform bill and we hope to have that language to caucus by 2 o’clock and to return at 3 approximately to pass it,” Winkler said.
News of a possible breakthrough came Monday morning from GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, who said “We never stopped working on this.” The Republican from East Gull Lake told reporters during a press conference ahead of the session’s start that Senate lawmakers have a deal in the works, although the language still needs to be hammered out.
The tentative deal comes less than two months after the killing of George Floyd on May 25. Video of the fatal arrest sparked protests and riots in Minnesota and across the country. They were followed by calls for police reform and a push by the Minneapolis City Council to dismantle the city’s police department.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is charged with murder in Floyd’s death. Cellphone video of the arrest showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd repeatedly told him he couldn’t breathe. Three other former officers involved in Floyd’s death are also facing charges.
Gazelka said that the police reform bill could pass Monday, but not if a bonding bill doesn’t also pass. The $1.9 billion package for construction projects and jobs does not currently have enough Republican support in the Democratic-controlled House. Gazelka says he plans to adjourn the special session by midnight, leaving lawmakers with just hours to come to an agreement on the bonding bill.
“It’s either there or it’s not,” Gazelka said. “Basically, today or it’s not going to happen.”
The hang-up, once again, is the opposition of the Republican House Minority to Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency COVID-19 powers, which Republicans at the State Capitol have tried to remove multiple times now.
“We believe the legislature should have had an ability to weigh in on those executive orders over that four- or five-month period,” House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt said.
The bonding bill requires a super-majority three-fifths vote in each house. That’s why its passage seems unlikely. There would likely be another special session in August.