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House Approves Rep. Tabke’s Bill Clarifying the Removal of Ombudspersons

Thursday, March 16, 2023

St. Paul, MN - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed House File 745, clarifying the removal of an ombudsperson. Specifically, the bill would make it so the Ombudsperson for the Department of Corrections can only be removed in cases of just cause. The bill, authored by Rep. Tabke (DFL - Shakopee) passed on a vote of 70-544.

“This bill is a commonsense solution, giving the DOC Ombudsperson the freedom they need to effectively do their job without fear of retaliation,” said Rep. Tabke. “It’s important to insulate these positions from political influence so they can wholly focus on getting the work done.”

The Office of the Ombudsperson for the Department of Corrections was created to provide oversight of DOC and to help ensure those charged with the care and custody of inmates are fulfilling their duties and respecting the inmates’ rights. The Ombudsperson often makes decisions that will challenge the administration and potentially make information public that puts the administration in a poor light. As such, the Ombudsperson deserves to be protected from retaliation in order to fulfill their duty with the vigor it deserves.

House File 745 prevents the DOC Ombudsperson from being removed from office in retribution for carrying out an unpopular investigation or making a candid and critical report and recommendations. The bill amends statute so the Ombudsperson can only be removed for just cause, instead of serving at the pleasure of the Governor. 

Video of today’s floor debate can be found on the House Public Information YouTube channel.