St. Paul, MN. – Friday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Public Safety and Judiciary Finance bill on a vote of 68-61. The package invests $200 million in proven, transformative, and innovative solutions that work to help Minnesota tackle some of the largest challenges to keeping people and communities safe. This bill also takes the necessary step of adequately funding critical justice system services for the first time in decades with $140 million in new investments.
“Minnesota is facing some urgent public safety challenges, and people are counting on us to deliver comprehensive, innovative, statewide solutions. House DFLers are meeting this critical moment with the right tools at the right time to keep people all over the state safe,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul), bill author and chair of the House Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Committee. “While it builds capacity for law enforcement and traditional public safety institutions, our budget also builds capacity in community-based ideas and delivers resources to support the communities that need them most. We can’t continue taking a ‘same old, same old’ approach and expect better outcomes. Instead, House DFLers are taking an approach we know can will work to prevent crime, stop violence, and improve public safety everywhere in Minnesota.”
The budget includes the Public Safety Innovation Act, authored by Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL – New Hope), with $150 million worth of investments in expedited, data-driven strategies for communities to address increasing crime, hire additional personnel, and rebuild community trust. House DFLers are also working to advance juvenile justice measures including grants for prevention, intervention, mental health, and wellness, including a prohibition on solitary confinement of juveniles, funding the Youth Conflict Resolution Center, investing in Youth Intervention Programs, and more.
“We’ve worked hard this session to put together a Public Safety bill that actually works to reduce crime, support law enforcement, and ensure that the system works for everyone in Minnesota,” said Rep. Frazier. “I’m grateful for the officers, community advocates, and expert researchers who have come forward to help us craft the best bill possible. It’s time to move toward new ideas, rather than rehashing the tired policies of the past.”
The budget invests in communities of color by establishing an Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls, a Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives tip reward fund, and funding to create the Healing House, a space where Indigenous women involved in the justice system can receive trauma-informed support and get on the path to stability. Labor trafficking laws are also strengthened under the bill, as well as measures to improve the ability to hold people committing domestic violence accountable.
“All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities — no matter where we live or what we look like,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “DFLers are focused on delivering both immediate and long-term solutions for our public safety challenges while working to improve transparency and accountability to build community trust. We’re bringing forward significant investments aimed at addressing the root causes that lead to increases in violence and allocating resources directly to law enforcement and community groups working on the ground to help prevent and solve crimes.”
The package includes numerous provisions to help those previously convicted of crimes turn their lives around following past mistakes, including the Clean Slate Act which removes barriers that make it difficult to access housing, education, and employment. Additionally, the bill includes $4 million in additional direct assistance to crime victims, a measure authorizing the use of GPS devices to track stolen vehicles, funding to increase forensic and analytical capacity at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, an expanded definition of computer theft crimes, and more.
The bill also adequately funds each sector of our justice system, which functions as a three legged stool made up of our Courts system, Public Defense, and Civil Legal Services. If any one of these is underfunded or understaffed, the whole system is out of balance. This balance is accomplished in this year's budget through historic, necessary increases in funding for Public Defense at $50 million for FY22/23 and Civil Legal Services at $47,857,000 for FY22/23.
“The House DFL has been hard at work this session to craft a Judiciary finance bill that ensures Minnesota meets its constitutional obligation to provide justice for all. We crafted a bill that takes into account the testimony of impacted citizens, advocates, and experts to create legislation that brings our justice system closer to our ideals of fairness and equity,” said Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL – Roseville), chair of the committee and author of the bill. “Adequate funding to reach basic functionality in our legal system is long overdue and will benefit Minnesotans in every part of our state.”
In addition, the bill eliminates fees for uncertified copies of public court documents, establishes an Office of Appellate Counsel for parents, and establishes increased ongoing funding for the Family Resiliency Partnership.
Video of the House Floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.