As Minnesota grapples with another police-involved death of a Black man, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka pledged at a press conference Monday, April 13, that the Senate would hold public safety hearings in the coming weeks. “It appears that the death was a tragic, unjustifiable mistake, a terrible event that happened in Minnesota that we’re going to have to address and deal with,” Gazelka said.
Gazelka cited the package of police accountability reforms passed by the legislature last summer, following the death of George Floyd, and said that the Senate will hold hearings as soon as work on the major budget bills is completed. “We have been listening to people, we want to listen to people, and we will continue to listen to people,” he said.
A bipartisan solution to bring an end to the eviction moratorium ordered by Governor Tim Walz early in the COVID-19 pandemic passed the Senate Monday, April 12. The plan, authored by Senator Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, provides a process and structure to aid renters in accessing federal aid and guidance and clarity to landlords on when leases can be terminated and tenants evicted.
According to Draheim, 30 days after the bill is signed into law, landlords may begin evictions for the so-called “bad apples," those who have broken their lease for reasons other than non-payment. After 60 days, evictions can occur for tenants who have breached their lease and who do not qualify for aid. After 90 days, any lease can be terminated unless the tenant is in the process of seeking federal aid.
To view the entire floor session: April 12 Floor Session.
Minnesota’s next two year budget is taking shape as the Republican-led Senate and DFL-led House finalize their respective budget proposals. Senate Finance Chair Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to provide details on their budgetary priorities.
The Minnesota Supreme Court recently overturned a sexual assault conviction because the victim was voluntarily intoxicated, thereby failing to meet the threshold for mental incapacitation under state law. Lawmakers are now considering closing this loophole, and the Senate Judiciary Committee heard compelling testimony this week. To view the entire hearing: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing.
Finally, Senate photographers A.J. Olmscheid and Catherine J. Davis provide some recent images captured during this historic legislative session.
A provision that would close the loophole that deters rape victims from obtaining justice if they were raped while intoxicated came before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday evening, April 7. The committee heard emotional testimony from victims whose cases were not prosecuted because the women had voluntarily consumed alcohol prior to being assaulted.
A number of advocates testified in favor of reforms stemming from the work of the Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutory Reform Working Group. The actions of the committee are the result of a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision that overturned a sexual assault conviction because the victim was voluntarily intoxicated, thereby failing to meet the threshold for mental incapacitation under state law.
Some or all of the reforms will likely be included in the Judiciary omnibus budget and policy bill.To view the entire hearing: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing.
Measures to close loopholes and strengthen sexual assault laws were presented to the press by a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers Wednesday, April 7. The provisions in HF 707 / SF 1683 result from the work of the Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutory Reform Working Group created by the legislature in 2019. A recent ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court which overturned a sexual assault conviction because the victim was voluntarily intoxicated has sparked lawmakers to push for quick action to modify the law.
In addition to addressing definitions for mental incapacitation and intoxication, the legislation would also offer protections to the youngest teenagers, prohibit educators from engaging in sexual conduct with children and create a new sexual extortion crime.
According to the DFL lead of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, this bill is the number one priority of the bipartisan, bicameral caucus. “We believe that now is the time and the opportunity to address these issues,” he said.
The House Public Safety and Judiciary Committees have approved the legislation. The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee will consider the “mental incapacitation” language for possible inclusion in the omnibus budget and policy bill at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7.