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House passes $55 million boost for public safety, judiciary and corrections

(House Photography file photo)
(House Photography file photo)

The state’s judicial system, and Public Safety and Corrections departments could be in line to receive an extra $55.35 million in this fiscal year and the next.

That’s the bottom line in HF5216, the public safety and judiciary supplemental budget bill which, as amended, was passed 71-57 by the House Tuesday and sent to the Senate.

Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview) said she is especially proud of the $9.56 million that would significantly increase services the Department of Public Safety could provide to crime victims, especially those who have suffered sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.

“The programs that provide these services across the state support, annually, more than 68,000 victims,” said Moller, chair of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee and sponsor of HF5216. “Crime victim services funding is a top priority this session, in large part because many of these programs have lacked an increase in funding for a while and, on top of that, they’re experiencing cuts from federal dollars.

“In the last week, with a couple of different bills on the floor, we have heard a lot of concern and support for victims of violence. … This is your opportunity today to support victims of crime.”

Public safety funding

Public safety programs would be in line to receive $19.35 million of the bill total, including:

  • $9.56 million for direct assistance to crime victim survivors;
  • $133,000 for a Motor Vehicle Compliance Working Group;
  • $100,000 for law enforcement therapy dog grants; and
  • $50,000 for a Task Force on Domestic Violence and Firearms.

In addition, the bill would appropriate $1.45 million for public safety telecommunicator training and certification with funds from the 911 emergency telecommunications service account in the special revenue fund.

Only one item in the bill would request a fiscal year 2024 appropriation: a $5.9 million “operating adjustment” for the Department of Corrections to be used to hire more staff at the state’s 11 prisons and boost their salaries.

Minnesota House debate on HF5216, the judiciary and public safety supplemental budget bill 5/7/24

[MORE: View the public safety spreadsheet]

Judiciary funding

Judiciary items in the bill came from HF5245, sponsored by Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville), chair of the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.

“Despite having obviously a much smaller [budget] target this year, we have some important things in the bill,” said Becker-Finn, citing increased funding for court interpreters and forensic examiners and creating a board of civil legal aid.

The grand total for judiciary items in the bill would be $36 million, with district courts being the largest beneficiary at $32 million for the 2024-25 biennium. The Supreme Court would receive $4 million, with $3.5 million of that to enhance cybersecurity in all state judiciary system courts.

A one-time $500,000 appropriation would fund a competitive grant program for courthouse safety and security improvements, including making security assessments, purchasing equipment and technologies, or training. Recipients would need to provide 50% matching funds.

The bill would spend $27.4 million for district courts to hire more courtroom forensic examiners and boost their hourly pay from $125 to $136. They provide mental health examinations in civil commitment and criminal proceedings.

The remainder of the district court funds would be:

  • $2.82 million to hire more certified courtroom interpreters for non-English speakers and increase their hourly pay from $65 to $75;
  • $1.58 million on the state’s jury program;
  • $170,000 on court interpreter travel time; and
  • $50,000 on vicarious trauma services for jurors.

[MORE: View the judiciary spreadsheet]

Policy provisions, Republican objections

The bill has four policy-only provisions, one of which was the focus of most Republican objections.

The three non-controversial provisions would:

  • create an 11-member State Board of Civil Legal Aid to make decisions about legal aid previously made by a Supreme Court advisory council;
  • expand who is eligible for the Safe at Home program operated by the Office of the Secretary of State; and
  • allow juveniles convicted of a crime to forgo paying a court-ordered fine if they participate in a local restorative process established by the Office of Restorative Justice.

The controversial provision came from an amendment adopted by the House Ways and Means Committee April 30. It would require a peace officer making a traffic stop for a secondary offense of the motor vehicle code to inform the vehicle’s operator of the reason for the stop before engaging in questioning related to the suspected violation.

Rep. Paul Novotny (R-Elk River), a former police officer, said the bill’s language is too strict and wouldn’t protect officers from getting into legal trouble if the circumstances of a traffic stop suddenly change, putting an officer’s life in danger, and preventing the officer from abiding by the proposed procedure.

“Overall, this is a good bill,” said Rep. Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge). “Except for that one provision. So I can’t support this bill.”


Three amendments were proposed for the bill, and one was successful: Adding a provision on federal background checks for applicants for licensure for cabaret or massage services.

Unsuccessful amendments would have transferred funding for a motor vehicle registration compliance working group to provide grants for a program to allow peace officers to give out vouchers for minor car repairs, and required Department of Public Safety employees to have a primary residence within Minnesota or a neighboring state that’s within an hour of their workplace.

— Session Daily writer Rob Hubbard contributed to this story.


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