Minnesota Senate passes public safety bills, including proposal that would limit use of chokeholds

Minnesota state senators worked late into the night to pass new restrictions on police use of force.

The special session debate, which ended early Wednesday morning, resulted in the passage of a bill that limits when officers can use chokeholds and neck restraints. The bill also requires officers to intercede when they see another officer using unreasonable force.

Other legislation that passed the Republican-controlled Senate include a bill that would allocate an extra $6 million for training on crisis intervention and mental health awareness and another that increases reporting requirements in instances where use of force causes serious injury or death.

The DFL-controlled House has presented a much longer list of proposals, but some in the Senate contend the limited time window for the special session makes it tough to pass meaningful legislation. Right now Republican senators have set Friday as the end date, but DFLers have said they’re willing to work longer.

"We’re doing our best in a very short period of time," said Assistant Majority Leader Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove. "The governor has been demanding action from the legislature, and we’re trying to recognize the things that we could possibly include that would be close to being acceptable — I just don’t understand why we can’t work together."

Debate over police accountability in Minnesota Senate off to rough start

While dozens of bills are being debated in the Senate, some say they don’t go far enough.

"You can put words on paper, but just to say you put it on paper that doesn’t change anything," said Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis. "There just means there’s another piece of paper with words on it. But we are looking for substance."

In a statement Wednesday morning, Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL- Woodbury, also criticized the Republican proposals, saying they insufficiently address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

"I am deeply disappointed that during a pivotal moment in history, Senate Republicans failed to step up to the challenge. Instead, they proposed a weak package of bills that fall far short of the fundamental changes people across Minnesota and the country are demanding. The legislation passed today includes no substantive changes to our criminal justice or policing system."

She then pointed to a package of more than 20 bills that members of the People of Color and Indigenous caucus have proposed but have yet to receive hearings.