Capitol Watch: Liberals have second thoughts on SRO fix

In last week’s legislative preview, we commented that the proposed fix to the SRO issue was on the right track, “but it remains to be seen if the defund-the-police crowd in the House of Representatives will back the change.” After two hearings in the House this week, it looks like liberal House members are not on board with the proposed fix and the legislation is officially stalled. Instead of moving the bill to another committee or to the House floor, the House Public Safety Committee laid the bill over after their Tuesday night hearing.

Liberals in Minnesota once again this week voiced concerns about allowing licensed police officers to use their training and experience to break up fights on school property. They’re trying to obfuscate the issue by talking about a specific prone restraint technique, but it really comes down to who controls the SROs on school property.

Testimony against the bill was led by Matt Shaver of Ed Allies representing the Solutions Not Suspensions Coalition. His over-the-top rhetoric started with “Prone kills kids,” arguing the bill isn’t about whether SROs belong in schools but whether “killed kids belong in schools.” He asked the committee, “When should a School Resource Officer be able to hold your child in a way that prevents them from calling out for help?” I’m pretty sure the answer is when that child is about to hurt somebody else in the school, and the SRO is trained to recognize and handle this situation.

Watch Mr. Shaver’s breathless testimony here:

House Republicans also raised concerns about the proposed fix, but for other reasons. They are wary of the bill’s mandate for a statewide model policy developed by the Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board, a group appointed by the governor and unaccountable to the public.

The early testimony on this topic exposed the lack of trust many people in Minnesota still have in law enforcement. In addition to Shaver of the Solutions Not Suspensions Coalition, several high school students testified as members of the Minnesota Youth Council. According to them, the SROs are the problem, not the solution.

One student testified she has little to no experience with SROs, but “If this bill passes, we need to hold the SROs accountable for completing their duties and doing it in a way that is consistent.”

Another student from the Youth Council told the committee, “The most important part of my identity is the fact that I’m a student of color who simply wants to feel safe in school. Coming from an area that is predominately BIPOC, I know first-hand how damaging the lack of trust communities such as mine and the structure of police can be.” The student objected to “sticking peace officers in the one place students spend up to 18 hours of the day.”

The idea of this bill getting done early in session came to a grinding halt as more and more liberals spoke up for the bill passed last session keeping SROs under the rules and supervision of school districts instead of their chiefs or sheriffs.

The difference in 2024 is that we’re even hearing testimony. The SRO language wasn’t heard in public safety committees last session as they tried to sneak the policy through unnoticed.

Sanctuary state bill

Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman threw some cold water on another big issue this week as she told the press the votes might not be there for the bill making Minnesota a sanctuary state. But Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy left the door open, saying, “It will be up to the committees to decide whether to hear that legislation or not.”

The bill would prohibit state and local governments from cooperating with federal immigration authorities such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Will liberals control the fate of this bill the same way they are controlling the SRO bill? Hortman and her DFL Caucus are facing a challenge this November for control of the House, while Murphy and Gov. Walz aren’t on the ballot until 2026. The Speaker knows how bad this issue will play in swing districts, but she’s going to have to convince the uber-liberals in her caucus to step back despite their desire to build on the gains for immigrants from the 2023 session. Those included driver’s licenses for all, free college tuition for illegal immigrants and free health care for illegal immigrants.

This post on X says it all:

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