Minn. House passes wide-ranging public safety bill that includes police reform legislation, moves to Senate
Following the jury’s decision to convict Derek Chauvin, immediate calls were made to change policing in Minnesota.
Gov. Tim Walz and some state lawmakers said more needs to be done.
Now, DFL members in the House are pushing to overhaul police training and how they interact with the public.
Lawmakers in the House discussed the bill in St. Paul on Wednesday and passed it 70-63 early Thursday. It now heads to the Senate.
For both sides, the timing is one of the biggest points of contention.
"I hope that it does provide momentum for us to push through reform," said Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul.
House Democrats like Mariani said they believe now is the time to push this forward.
"I don’t know what you would wait for. The moment to act is now. It’s a real, quite frankly, privileged position to say ‘Let’s put this off for a while because I’m not seeing an impact on my immediate family,’" Mariani said.
The bill includes preventing officers from stopping drivers for certain equipment violations. It would give the police licensing board access to information on past complaints against officers. It would dedicate $6 million a year to peace officer training known as the Philando Castile Memorial Training Fund.
"This really should not be partisan at all," Mariani said.
"We all agree that Minnesotans deserve to feel safe in their communities and protected and respected by law enforcement," said Rep. Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch.
Brindley agrees there most certainly are elements of police reform that need to be looked at. But she wants to make sure not to rush this through.
"It is way more important right now to do this right than to do it fast," Brindley said.
Brindley says this comprehensive public safety bill includes more than just police reform, and she says some provisions go too far.
"The legislation that’s being put forward today would put activist groups, some of whom want to defund police altogether, in charge of local police departments," Brindley said. "They’d have the power to create agency policy, even discipline officers who don’t even violate department rules."
Just last summer, the Senate and House agreed upon police accountability measures.
As for Senate Republicans, last week, Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said they plan to have more hearings on the issue next week.