Legislature Reaches Impasse on Police Reform Measures

June 22, 2020

During the special session that ran from June 12 to June 20, the House and Senate failed to compromise on a response to calls for police reform.

In the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death at the hands of police officers, making meaningful changes to laws governing police conduct, training, and oversight became a focal point of the special session that began June 12. However, proposals that emerged from the House and Senate did not align.

The House package was very comprehensive and included measures aimed at addressing systemic racism, while the Senate bills focused on police training, officer mental health, and reporting requirements.

House proposals

The three law enforcement reform initiatives are based on proposals brought forward by the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus. Each bill deals with an aspect of police policy, training, or discipline that caucus members believe will improve public safety and relations between officers and the communities they serve.

Below are links to the bills, along with a brief description of the provisions included in each:

  • The Reclaiming Community Oversight Act (HF 93, authored by Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul)
    • Data practices modifications for peace officers
    • Retroactive repeal of statutes of limitations
    • Warrior training prohibited
    • Choke hold ban
    • Duty to intercede
    • Police residency reform
    • Data collection and regulatory reform
    • Arbitration reform
    • Law enforcement oversight council reform
  • The Reforming Accountability Act (HF 1, authored by Rep. Mariani)
    • Use-of-force reform
    • Prosecutorial reform
    • Investigatory reform
    • Cash bail
  • The Reimagining Public Safety Act (HF 92, authored by Rep. Mariani)
    • Public safety peer counseling debriefing
    • Police officer critical incident review
    • Community-led public safety
    • Mental health training
    • Autism training
    • Restore the vote

The bills were ultimately rolled into one package and attached to a Senate file, SF 104, authored by Rep. Mariani. After a lengthy floor debate, the measure passed off the House floor on a vote of 71-59.

Senate schedules hearing

After Senate leaders indicated they would not rush their response to calls for action on laws governing police, they settled on five measures aimed at responding to calls for police reform:

  • SF 1, authored by Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), extends funding for police training in crisis intervention, mental illness crises, conflict management, mediation, implicit bias, community diversity, and cultural differences.
  • SF 3, authored by Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), would impose law enforcement use-of-force reporting requirements.
  • SF 5, authored by Sen. Ingebrigtsen, would limit admissibility of statements made during public safety peer support activity and critical incident stress management services.
  • SF 49, authored by Sen. Ingebrigtsen, would expand access to law enforcement hiring information.
  • SF 104, authored by Sen. Limmer, would require updates to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board Use of Force policy.

The five bills were taken up and passed in an emotional June 18 floor session, during which members of the POCI Caucus accused the Senate Republican majority of failing to consult them on the bills as they were being drafted.

League positions

The League’s positions on the House provisions are outlined in a letter submitted to Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division chair, Rep. Mariani. The letter reads in part, “The League recognizes the urgent need for changes that will strengthen the public’s trust in peace officers and bolster collaboration between communities and law enforcement where it is lacking. Furthermore, the League has long sought reforms that would help more effectively discipline officers who violate policies and undermine the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system.”

The letter emphasizes the League’s support for changes to the arbitration process. It also expresses support for training measures and “duty to intercede” policies. The letter raises concerns about the local cost implications of some proposals, and opposes measures that would mandate citizen oversight councils and eliminate the statute of limitations on action to recover damages for a death caused by a peace officer.

—Read the League’s full letter to the House division (pdf)

The League also expressed support for the bills heard in the Senate and submitted written testimony in advance of a June 16 hearing. The League called on the Senate to include arbitration reform in their discussions.

—Read the League’s full letter to the Senate committee (pdf)