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Omnibus public safety bill headed for gun-control showdown

A late addition could make for a controversial future for the omnibus public safety and criminal justice reform finance bill.

At the Thursday afternoon meeting of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division, one technical amendment was adopted to the division’s omnibus bill, HF2792.

But the real debate is likely to take place when the division reconvenes at 5:15 p.m. to finalize its work because DFL leadership announced Thursday morning its intention to amend the omnibus bill to include the language of two DFL-sponsored gun-control bills, HF8 and HF9.

[MORE — Watch the hearing]

Sponsored by Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), the proposed omnibus bill was first heard in committee on Tuesday.

After the Thursday morning DFL announcement, Rep. Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) denounced the strategy.

"Democrats have told us for months their gun-control bills are common-sense and supported by huge majorities of the public,” he said in a statement. “But now they're choosing to hide these proposals in huge omnibus bills rather than showing Minnesotans where they stand with a clean up-or-down vote."

These bills must pass standalone in order to be part of the conversation, Johnson said, adding: “These bills are non-starters as part of the budget discussion and should be totally ignored as budget negotiations begin."

In their announcement, House DFL leaders characterized their actions as necessary due to the Senate’s inaction on gun-control legislation.

“Minnesotans have demanded that lawmakers address gun violence prevention,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park). “The Senate cannot kill gun violence prevention by refusing to hear the bills in committee or refusing to take action on the Senate floor.”

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) guaranteed that the DFL-controlled House “will pass gun violence prevention legislation this session.”

“Senate Republicans can play games if they want, but they should be honest with Minnesotans — you either support the bills or you don’t,” he said. “Minnesotans deserve honest, open debate, not hiding behind legislative process games.”


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