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House, Senate leaders reach agreement on police reform; bonding bill remains in limbo

Tom Hauser
Updated: July 21, 2020 11:36 AM
Created: July 20, 2020 08:04 PM

UPDATE:

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The Minnesota Legislature has passed a package of police accountability measures that includes a ban on neck restraints like the one that was used on George Floyd before his death.

The sweeping package passed early Tuesday after legislators worked through the night on the bill, which was said to be one of the most substantial changes to the state’s criminal justice system in years. 

Some of the main details in the bill include bans on chokeholds and warrior-style training to broader use of force reporting and mental health intervention training. The bill also creates a special unit in the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate use-of-force incidents.

The bonding bill, meanwhile, did not have the same success in passing.

According to House minority leadership, poor communication led to its failure. However, House majority leadership tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the governor's executive powers stalled the GOP from voting for it.

“George Floyd’s death brought the need for meaningful police reform into sharp focus for Minnesotans across the state,” Gov. Tim Walz said. “After decades of advocacy by communities of color and Indigenous communities, the bipartisan passage of these measures is a critical step toward justice. This is only the beginning. The work does not end today.”

“Everyone deserves to feel safe and protected by police,” Walz added. “I look forward to signing into law these critical reforms to strengthen transparency and community oversight of policing, ban chokeholds and ‘warrior training,’ expand autism awareness and mental health de-escalation training for officers, and change the circumstances under which officers can use deadly force. These changes are long overdue.”

“The murder of George Floyd has laid bare injustices in a law enforcement system that does not serve and protect all Minnesotans equally,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “The bills passed by the Legislature will establish necessary measures of accountability and initiate meaningful reform as we work together to build a system that values public safety for all. This is not the end of our commitment to people, families, and communities impacted by police violence, and there is still so much work to do. We must continue to work in partnership with those most affected to achieve real change. I am grateful to the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus for leading this conversation.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also released a statement saying the legislation lacked significant reform, and adding that Minneapolis has already met or exceeded most of the changes outlined in the approved legislation.

"The absence of significant arbitration reform in last night's agreement represents a missed opportunity to strengthen accountability in departments across our state," Frey said. "At the local level, change-oriented leaders like Chief Arradondo will continue to see their ability to effect a culture shift limited without changes to arbitrators' authority to overturn disciplinary decision for egregious misconduct. People build culture, and we need the tools to more effectively address individual officer behavior.

"The killing of George Floyd has sparked new and renewed energy to achieve deep, structural changes - and that remains our charge moving forward."


Minnesota House and Senate leaders reached an agreement late Monday night on a bill that will reform policing throughout the state in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

There are 14 key provisions in the bill, ranging from bans on chokeholds and warrior-style training to broader use of force reporting and mental health intervention training.

Earlier in the day, Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka expressed optimism about an agreement on police reform.

"At this point, I would say there is tentative agreement but we are still working through the language," Gazelka said at a 10 a.m. news conference. "That's always the tricky part, but as far as what should be in the bill for points of reference, I think there's agreement there."

Minnesota Senate GOP leader says deal near on policing bill

Late Monday, Gov. Tim Walz also signed off on the bill and indicated he will sign it.


More information on the bill including the full text can be found here


As for the bonding bill,  Republican House Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt said his caucus would not provide votes needed to pass a bonding bill without changes in the governor's emergency powers during the pandemic. Agreement on that also remained elusive Monday night and might have to wait for another special session in August.

Also Monday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learned the cost of overtime for dozens of Minnesota State Troopers needed to protect the capitol during the last special session totaled $169,241. Extra state troopers are on duty again during the current special session.

The Minnesota State Capitol has been the scene of several protests and demonstrations since George Floyd's death in May. A security fence remains in place surrounding the perimeter of the capitol.


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