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House passes technical public safety policy bill

The omnibus public safety finance bill is chock full of hot-button provisions, including prohibiting no-knock warrants, and instituting universal background checks on handgun sales.

The omnibus public safety policy bill, however, has no such controversial issues.

That meant HF1510 faced no opposition Friday as it was passed, as amended, 123-0 by the House. It now heads to the Senate.

This policy-only bill focuses on changes incorporating recommendations from the Department of Public Safety on mostly technical measures that would clarify department procedures, modify its duties, and make conforming or technical changes in section 299A of state law governing the department.

All very non-controversial stuff, said Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview), chair of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee and bill sponsor.

One provision would codify in law procedures the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension must follow to modify the state’s criminal history system and warrant file to correct the records of someone falsely associated with a crime due to a stolen or mistaken identity.

And prosecutors would need to make reasonable efforts to notify victims of the date and time of plea hearings and sentencing hearings.

The bill would also change rules about how crime victims can receive reimbursement when they suffer an economic loss resulting from a crime.

Current law prohibits crime victims from receiving reimbursement if they do not cooperate fully with a police investigation. But many victims of domestic violence who participate in a court case against the person who harmed them can be re-traumatized by the experience, or even risk danger, according to victim advocacy groups.

The bill would add a new way a victim could avoid that potential trauma and still demonstrate cooperation with police: a signed document submitted by a victim service, counseling, or medical professional involved in the case.

And finally, the bill would clarify that the Department of Public Safety can accept “donations, nonfederal grants, bequests, and other gifts of money” to carry out its duties.

An amendment successfully offered by Rep. Paul Novotny (R-Elk River) would place stricter conditions on the types of gifts allowed, and require the department to submit an annual report to the Legislature on gifts received, their source and how they were used.

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