The Minnesota House failed to move forward Thursday with a plan that could help fund security during the trials of former officers involved in the killing of George Floyd, despite police and sheriffs urging legislators to act.
House DFL leaders brought up the bill that failed by a 63-71 vote, with some Democrats joining GOP members in opposition. The politically fraught measure would create a State Aid For Emergencies (SAFE) account that could be used to cover other law enforcement agencies' costs if they help Minneapolis with security during the trials. Gov. Tim Walz proposed creating the $35 million fund to help any community that requests mutual aid from other law enforcement agencies and then is stuck with bills it cannot pay.
"All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities while having the ability to exercise their first amendment rights," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul. "The trial of former officer Derek Chauvin is just days away, and we will continue working on a solution to deliver the necessary resources in preparation for this major event."
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, moved to reconsider the measure in the future after it was rejected. House Democratic leaders also did not have the votes to pass the bill earlier this week.
"Today, we are specifically urging members of the Minnesota House of Representatives to pass the latest version of the SAFE Account bill," three associations representing law enforcement wrote to House leadership Thursday. "The Governor's SAFE Account proposal is an opportunity to work together, and policing in the coming months will be harder without its passage."
With jury selection in Chauvin's trial set for March 8, House leaders are not only trying to reach a compromise in their own chamber — they must strike a deal with the Senate, which has a different plan. The GOP-led Senate passed its own bill this week that would divert some of the local government aid that a city receives from the state to cover the law enforcement bills, rather than create a state fund to pay for them.