Gov. Walz's SAFE Account proposal voted down in DFL-controlled house

Charlie Wiese
Updated: February 19, 2021 06:26 PM
Created: February 18, 2021 07:53 PM

Gov. Tim Walz's proposal for a SAFE (State Aid for Emergencies) Account that would provide public safety cost-share assistance to local governments during an unplanned or extraordinary public safety event was voted down in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, Thursday night.

According to a release from House Republicans, the SAFE Account bill was rejected, 71-63, a rare rejection of a bill proposed by the majority party.

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The SAFE Account was proposed by Walz on Feb. 3 in advance of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd's death.

The $35 million budget proposal would help law enforcement respond to major public safety events, Walz said in his proposal announcement.

Republicans pushed back against the proposal immediately following its announcement, with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka saying, "We are not going to bail out Minneapolis City Council after they have made cuts to the public safety budget."

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"Actions to defund the police have consequences. Instead, we will propose an alternative later this week to make sure mutual aid will be reimbursed, law enforcement can respond, and without taking general fund dollars away from education, healthcare, or transportation," Gazelka added.

Following the vote against the bill, House Republicans urged Democrats to make concessions and compromise.

“We hope the majority will reconsider their approach, and work with us to strike a compromise bill that can pass the House," House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said.

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House Democrats reaffirmed their position on public safety following the vote, with House Speaker Melissa Hortman saying, “House DFLers remain committed to providing public safety for all Minnesotans, no matter where we live or what we look like, and we will continue to partner with both community members and law enforcement to protect our communities and to build on the bipartisan police accountability reforms we enacted last year."

“We are grateful for the public service of law enforcement professionals who help preserve peace and safety for Minnesotans while respecting their constitutional and human rights,” Hortman added.

Walz released the following statement after the vote:

"I asked the Legislature to help me keep Minnesotans safe. I will continue to work with law enforcement and community members to keep Minnesotans safe, but there's no doubt this disappointing vote will make our work more challenging."

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