ST. PAUL — Leaders in the Minnesota Legislature on Tuesday, March, 23, remained at odds about security funding for a high-profile murder trial, further fueling doubts that they could pass something before arguments began in Minneapolis.
The Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives on Tuesday, March, 23, said the political will to put up state security funds for a high-profile trial had run short as federal COVID-19 aid flowed into the city and as state and local law enforcement groups struck mutual aid agreements. Law enforcement leaders had called on lawmakers to set up a $35 million state fund to entice police agencies to volunteer to back up officers in the Twin Cities.
They worried that the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin could again spur rioting and looting in the Twin Cities and they spent months planning for possible violence.
House lawmakers took up but failed to pass the bill weeks before jury selection in the case kicked off. Meanwhile, versions advanced in the Senate contained pieces that DFL senators considered "poison pills" that promised to complicate its passage through the Democratically-controlled House.
"We would still consider it a priority to pass that funding, but it doesn't appear to have a realistic path forward at this point in time in light of the federal resources to local government," Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, told reporters, noting that she didn't think Senate Republicans would resume negotiations. " I do not believe that there's political support to put together a deal at this point in time."
Republicans in the state Legislature said they were still willing to help pass the funding.
"The Senate passed two bills to support law enforcement for emergency needs," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said. "In a historically slow start to the session, the House has failed to pass any bills to support law enforcement, including blocking action on a SAFE compromise bill last week."
On Tuesday, Republicans in the Minnesota House tried to revive a bill to set up the account but didn't have enough support to bring it up for a floor vote.
State and local law enforcement officials said they'd secured mutual aid agreements without the account in place as a backup and were prepared to respond if Minnesotans or others broke the peace. In a Monday briefing, they said they'd not discovered any credible threats.