Bill to expand AG’s criminal prosecution team passes House, awaits Walz’s signature

The Minnesota House on Monday passed a bill that will put more money in the hands of the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute violent crimes.

It now heads to the desk of Gov. Tim Walz, who has demonstrated support for the measure.

The bill earmarks an additional $269,000 this year and $2 million each year after to expand the AG Office’s criminal enforcement team.

Right now, Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office has three criminal prosecutors — and there was just one when he took office in 2019. This appropriations bill will give him the funds to roster as many as 10.

In an interview with 5 INVESTIGATES in December, Ellison said a larger team will increase his office’s ability to handle criminal cases around the state that could overwhelm smaller counties.

“When there is a murder, we can accommodate them on those, when there is a massive white collar mess or theft case, they’re kind of on their own unless they can get the feds to do it,” Ellison said. “We just don’t have enough bandwidth to cover those kinds of cases. Historically, we did.”

The author of the House bill, Rep. John Huot (DFL-Rosemount), said the legislation supplies more resources to bring violent offenders to justice.

“It is up to us to make sure we have working systems in place to hold offenders accountable and ensure safety for all Minnesotans,” Huot said in a statement. “With today’s bill passage, we’re one step closer to closing critical funding gaps needed to address and prosecute violent crime.”

Before legislators took a vote, House Majority Leader Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis) said the bill could result in 80 more prosecutions each year.

The bill passed 73-55 in the House on Monday, a week after it gained Senate approval with a 35-32 vote.

House Republicans introduced several amendments meant to increase the AG Office’s accountability for the spending, but none passed.

Follow the progress of other notable bills with our Legislative Tracker.