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Minnesota Democratic senators on Tuesday outlined a $500 million public safety plan they say will help curb violent crime, provide resources to police officers and help address the root causes of the increase in gun violence and carjackings.
The proposal contrasts with Republican bills that would enact tougher criminal penalties and promote the law enforcement profession.
Democrats say their plan is more comprehensive and will have a longer term impact. “Minnesotans are ready for us to act now,” Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina.
Among the proposals are Gov. Tim Walz’s $300 million public safety proposal, which includes providing local governments with funding to address crime in their cities. It would also fund youth conflict resolution programs, provide transitional housing for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Sens. Bobby Joe Champion, Scott Dibble and Ron Latz are also sponsoring bills..
Champion’s legislation would provide funding for at-risk youth who are in danger of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. Latz is sponsoring a $100 million bill that would provide more funding for courts and public defenders, while paying for family support and educational opportunities to reduce recidivism for incarcerated Minnesotans.
Dibble’s bill would create a so-called Public Safety Innovation Board to issue grants for evidence-based public safety and crime prevention programs.
Latz, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance Committee, criticized the Republican approach.
“The GOP hasn’t done enough and their proposals are too narrow,” Latz said.
Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, criticized the DFL plan as last-minute, saying some bills were introduced just days before the first committee deadline to advance legislation.
“Senate Republicans made public safety our top priority this session. We are already moving bills that will support law enforcement, hold criminals accountable, and shed light on the judicial decisions that affect the daily safety of Minnesotans,” he said. “It’s hard to be an obstructionist to something that didn’t exist for the first seven weeks of session.”
The DFL bills have not received hearings in the Senate, and a divided Legislature means their passage is unlikely without significant changes to win GOP support.
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