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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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Thursday, April 4, 2024

ST. PAUL – In order to show support for law enforcement statewide and prioritize law and order in Minnesota, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said he is supporting a series of public safety initiatives that are being sponsored by House Republicans.


Torkelson noted that these proposals have been specifically requested by law enforcement leaders.


“Law enforcement needs our help and respect, not our scrutiny,” Torkelson said. 


One of the initiatives would allow more flexibility in how public safety aid is used by local governments so they can meet their specific needs. Last session, the legislative majority provided $300 million in one-time aid for law enforcement agencies, but did so with restrictions on how the money could be used. For example, tactical vehicles do not qualify, and neither does something as practical as improving lighting to increase safety. 


Another bill requires county attorneys to disclose information regarding expert witnesses to peace officers in an officer-involved death incident. Torkelson said this bill is in response to the recent dereliction of duty displayed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.


Torkelson also believes action should be taken on House Republican legislation that would increase the penalty for transferring a firearm to an ineligible person, aka, “straw man” purchases. As many are aware, an indictment has been filed against someone who allegedly acted as a straw purchaser of the weapons used in the shooting of three first responders in Burnsville. To date, House Democrats have refused to move the legislation forward.


“Unfortunately, when the majority finally recognizes Republicans have a good idea, they just steal the bill language and create their own bill so one of their own gets full credit,” Torkelson said.


Torkelson remains hopeful that these public safety proposals will be discussed in the weeks ahead.