ST. PAUL (WCCO) – One day after the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, the Minnesota House Wednesday night is expected to discuss a large public safety budget bill that would also include changes to police policies.
Ever since the legislature approved a bipartisan police accountability bill last summer after George Floyd’s death, DFL lawmakers have pushed for more changes. They see Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict as an opportunity to dial up pressure for the GOP-controlled Minnesota Senate to take up their cause.READ MORE: FBI Storms St. Cloud Bank, Ending Hourslong Hostage Situation
As of now, Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, is only committing to hearings further exploring the issue.
He reiterated that promise Wednesday morning and again did not weigh in on specific policies Republicans could endorse. He expressed concern about rushing through legislation without proper vetting.
“I’ve expressed openness that we’re willing to listen, but not promising we will do something in the next three weeks,” Gazelka said. “As we watched the verdict yesterday, I don’t think anybody can say that justice wasn’t served.”
Democrats and advocates say the state can’t afford to waste time and needs to act now to prevent further police killings.READ MORE: How Much Is A Mother's Work Worth?
Some of the policy proposals House members will discuss on Wednesday include the mandatory release of body camera video when a person dies in police custody and expanding a database tracking misconduct.
Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, said the database changes could create an “early warning system” that would help the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training intervene and better screen officers.
“Maybe [the POST Board would have] a chance to intervene and stop what happened to George Floyd and stop what happened to Daunte Wright,” Frazier said during a call with reporters. “But you know what? None of that is going to happen if we continue to have one part of our legislature that says they are not going to take action when they know in this moment, we need to take action. We cannot afford to continue to have lives lost when we can step in as legislators and do our job.”
Frazier has also authored a bill that would limit the authority of officers to stop or detain drivers for certain vehicle equipment violations, like a single broken taillight, in an effort to mitigate traffic stops that turn deadly.
Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he will “burn all of his political capital” on the issue, and that he would increase the pressure from his public platform as governor, underscoring how heated this debate could become in the final weeks of session.MORE NEWS: COVID Restrictions: Walz To End Capacity Restrictions By May 28, Mask Mandate By July 1
The legislature is slated to adjourn on May 17. Lawmakers need to pass a two-year budget to avert a government shutdown and more police accountability measures are likely to be a centerpiece of the discussion to reach an agreement between both chambers.