GOP, DFL far apart on police funding as special session nears

Minnesota lawmakers appear no closer to deals on police funding and accountability even as the Monday start of a special session nears.

House Republicans, many from rural districts, held a news conference Tuesday to call on Gov. Tim Walz to expand federal partnerships and send the Minnesota State Patrol rolling into Minneapolis amid a surge in violent crime. Meanwhile, House Democrats remained focused on police oversight measures and criticized the GOP for "non-helpful posturing."

The policing issue is one of several holding up a state budget from passing. Lawmakers must approve a budget by June 30 or state government shuts down the following day.

Republicans say the state should direct outside police to help in Minneapolis instead of giving additional funding to the city to deal with crime. Minneapolis homicides, shootings and carjackings are double their typical pace this year, part of a nationwide crime spike in major cities.

Minneapolis has requested state and federal help this month. The city has seen more than 200 police officers leave Minneapolis Police over the past year.

"With the current way the Minneapolis City Council has been acting toward law enforcement, I would not want to give a dime to the City of Minneapolis," state Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, said of the ongoing debate to restructure Minneapolis Police.

Walz called the GOP's proposal to send more state troopers to Minneapolis a "simplistic solution" that would create more problems by removing troopers from the highways outstate.

"We certainly agree there’s work to be done, but the idea of just throwing the State Patrol -- or worse yet, a non-policing agency like the National Guard -- doesn’t really get to the heart of this," Walz told reporters.

The governor said he was working on a safe streets initiative and expected the feds to have a role. He did not elaborate.

State Rep. Carlos Mariani, the House Public Safety chairman, redirected the conversation to police accountability measures that DFLers are pressing. Among them: a ban on traffic stops for minor equipment violations, restrictions to arrest warrants, and limits on how police respond to crowds. Republicans consider several of the proposals "anti-police."

The measures have gone nowhere since they were first proposed earlier this session. Negotiations have taken place entirely out of public view since the regular legislative session ended May 17.

"I call on Senate Republicans to stop the non-helpful posturing and find an agreement with us that will meet the needs of our communities," Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, said in an email that suggested few agreements have been reached.