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State senate advances public safety legislation

The Minnesota Senate on Monday passed a comprehensive public safety bill that provides critical funding to hold criminals accountable and keep Minnesota's communities safe. It focuses on all aspects of the criminal justice system and courts, including youth intervention, criminal laws, sentencing guidelines, police, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, prisons, and probation.

The public safety bill includes one provision authored by District 22 Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne. S.F. 534 directs $3 million per year in Emergency Management Readiness Grants for emergency management departments in all counties, tribes and cities of the first class for emergency planning and preparedness activities for natural disasters and other events.

The bill includes provisions to address the central issues currently facing Minnesota's law enforcement officers: recruitment, retention, education and training, and equipment. It also has several "tough on crime" provisions that increase penalties for repeat offenders, carjackers and violent criminals using firearms. There is also enhanced support for the Violent Crime Enforcement Teams (VCET), which have successfully targeted drugs and guns across the state.

Additionally, the bill takes several steps to improve transparency for decisions that lead to early releases and failures to charge to the fullest extent possible. Among other provisions is a $50 million increase in funding for public defenders to support Minnesota's criminal justice system.

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