This article was originally published on June 26, 2021
ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Republican and DFL leaders at the state capitol say they have reached a bipartisan agreement on a public safety spending package that includes more police accountability measures, which emerged as one of the most contentious issues this year.
The deal, announced Saturday night, is the last area of the $52 billion two-year budget to be resolved, though House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said they are still tying up some loose ends.
“We are still resolving some minor issues, but have reached a bipartisan agreement with the Senate that both fully funds public safety and the judiciary and includes reforms to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” Hortman said in a statement. “It doesn’t include some of the important police reform and accountability measures pushed by the House, but it is a step forward in delivering true public safety and justice for all Minnesotans despite divided government.”
The bill includes limits on no-knock search warrants; establishes a state government office focused on missing and murdered indigenous women; requires 911 operators to refer calls involving mental health crisis to mental health crisis teams when appropriate; and creates an “early warning system” within the Minnesota Board of Peace Officers Standards and Training database to identify patterns of misconduct.
It also makes changes to how the state levies fines and fees in the court system and funding increases for public defenders and legal aid, according to a list from Hortman’s office.
The actual bill language was not yet published as of late Saturday night.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka echoed Hortman, saying there are still some details being sorted. Gazelka has repeatedly said Republicans would not support any proposals they deemed “anti-police” or would “hinder” offciers’ ability to do their job.
“Earlier today we began closing the public safety bill after reaching general, bipartisan agreement,” he said. “Some small issues are still being worked out, but I am confident we will finish the bill and keep Minnesotans safe.”
Passing more police accountability measures has been a top priority for DFL legislators following bipartisan legislation signed into law last summer following George Floyd’s that enacted some changes, including banning “warrior-style” training and making it a duty to intervene when an officer sees a colleague engage in misconduct.
The Legislature must approve all budget bills by Wednesday at midnight to fund state government and avoid a shutdown Thursday. Gov. Tim Walz signed five bills into law Saturday.
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