SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Public Safety and Judiciary Finance bill. 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. Rep. Liz Reyer (DFL – Eagan) voted in favor of the legislation.
“House DFLers are collaborating with mayors, police chiefs, and community leaders to deliver the tools they need to address rising crime,” said Rep. Reyer. “This bill supports public safety for all Minnesotans through investment and accountability. It contains innovative, community-led solutions to prevent crime from occurring in the first place and makes our criminal justice system fairer and more effective. I was proud to vote for it.”
The budget includes the Public Safety Innovation Act 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.
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.
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.
In addition, the bill contains legislation Rep. Reyer authored to establish increased ongoing funding for the Family Resiliency Partnership, a program that helps women enter the workforce. The bill eliminates fees for uncertified copies of public court documents and establishes an Office of Appellate Counsel for parents as well.