Omnibus finance bills contain line after line of budget appropriations to fund government agencies and programs, allowing them to function for the current and next fiscal year and beyond.
For Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), the omnibus public safety and criminal justice reform bill he sponsors, is also full of big ideas representing “an approach to public safety that’s innovative in its nature.”
Mariani said HF4608 adopts several innovative approaches, including creative ways to help law enforcement meet current staffing challenges, increase crime prevention efforts, help offenders reintegrate into society after release from prison, and address accountability issues when law enforcers break the law.
“My hope is that we can drive an effective response to the crime problems that we currently face,” he said.
The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee did a walkthrough Tuesday of a delete-all amendment to the bill, took some testimony, and laid the bill over. Testimony is scheduled to continue Thursday, which is also when amendments will be considered. Final markup and a vote is to occur Friday.
By the numbers
The omnibus bill calls for a $183.7 million supplemental budget appropriation in fiscal year 2023 to fund dozens of projects, most in the Public Safety and Corrections departments. Most appropriations would continue at similar levels in future fiscal years.
[MORE: View the spreadsheet]
The appropriation is 40% higher than Gov. Tim Walz’s supplemental public safety budget request of $117.6 million in fiscal year 2023.
Fiscal year 2023 appropriations requested for the Department of Public Safety include:
The Department of Corrections would get $24.1 million, including:
“The bill is comprehensive, and it invests in what works to keep Minnesota communities safe,” said Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell.
While effective and fair enforcement of the law is critical to hold lawbreakers accountable, he said prevention, restorative and rehabilitative programs also play an essential role in keeping the public safe. “We all know we cannot punish our way out of this increase in crime.”
Other funding provisions include:
Nearly a dozen provisions in the omnibus bill came from HF4200, the so-called “public safety innovation package” sponsored by Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope).
To that end, the bill would create a Public Safety Innovation Board in the Office of Justice Programs within the Department of Public Safety. It would get $95 million in fiscal year 2023 for local community innovation grants to invest in local policing, investigation, reentry programs, victim services, co-responder programs, juvenile diversion, and other community-based strategies to prevent crime.
Another provision in the omnibus bill incorporated from HF4200 would give $15 million to local law enforcement agencies to buy body cameras for police officers and the hardware to store body camera video.
The bill would establish timelines for law enforcement agencies to disclose body camera recordings of incidents involving the use of deadly force to the victim’s family within five business days and to the public within 14 business days.
The bill incorporates provisions from HF1152, sponsored by Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Mpls), which would establish an automatic expungement process for certain non-felony, non-violent offenses.
That bill, also called the “Clean Slate Act,” would require the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to identify persons eligible for expungement, and the omnibus bill would give the BCA $1.1 million in fiscal year 2023 to establish internal systems to perform those functions.
Law enforcement officers would be permitted to attach a mobile tracking device to stolen vehicles without prior court approval if the owner of the vehicle either grants consent or reported to law enforcement that the vehicle was stolen.
Police would be required to remove the tracking device if the vehicle is recovered and returned to the owner. Any tracking device evidence collected after the motor vehicle is returned to the owner would be inadmissible in court.
The same tracking provisions also appear in HF1404, the omnibus judiciary policy bill approved by the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee and sent to the House Floor on March 31.
What’s in the bill?
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus public safety finance and policy bill: