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House public safety panel gives $2.2 billion omnibus bill — including controversial gun measures — first hearing

The House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee pictured March 2. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
The House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee pictured March 2. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

The intent of making new laws is to try to fix problems in our society.

Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview) says people have lost confidence in the criminal justice system, a major problem that needs to be fixed.

“When we don’t have a system that people trust, victims don’t report crimes, witnesses don’t come forward, and people who are supposed to be held accountable aren’t. We have a problem.”

She sponsors HF2890, the omnibus public safety finance bill, that proposes spending $2.2 billion in the 2024-25 biennium and make what Moller calls “transformational changes” in all corners of the criminal justice system.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

Moller said it would also make dozens of policy changes instituting innovative approaches to criminal justice reform, including increasing crime prevention efforts, helping offenders reintegrate into society after release from prison, and giving more opportunities for people with criminal records to seek redemption.

House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee 3/28/23

And it doesn’t forget a very important aspect of restoring trust in the criminal justice system, Moller said. “This bill has substantial funding for victims.”

The House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, which Moller chairs, did a walkthrough Tuesday of a delete-all amendment to the bill, took testimony from nearly two-dozen people, and laid the bill over. Committee discussion is scheduled for Thursday, at which time amendments will be considered, and a final vote taken.

Testifiers spoke on several high-profile provisions in the bill, including banning no-knock warrants, “red-flag” provisions allowing family members and others to petition a court to have firearms removed from a person found to pose a significant danger to themselves or others, and instituting universal background checks on handgun sales.

Appropriations

The two biggest state agencies to be funded are the Department of Corrections at $1.58 billion and the Department of Public Safety at $574.7 million.

Within corrections, the bill would appropriate:

  • $1.1 billion for incarceration and pre-release services;
  • $393.8 million for community supervision and post-release services; and
  • $98.3 million for administration.

Within public safety, the bill would appropriate:

  • $196.1 million for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension;
  • $160.3 million for the Office of Justice Programs;
  • $144 million for emergency communications networks;
  • $44.6 million for the Fire Marshall and Board of Firefighter Training;
  • $17.5 million for Homeland Security and Emergency Management; and
  • $7.3 million for Gambling and Alcohol Enforcement.

Other funding provisions include:

  • $26.2 million for the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board;
  • $3 million for the Sentencing Guidelines Commission; and
  • $1.4 million for the private detective board.

Policy provisions

Some of the more notable policy provisions in the bill, some of which also have funding requests, include:

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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 bill:


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