With the start of the new legislative session just a month away, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka outlined the 2020 Senate GOP agenda at a press conference on Monday, and part of his comments focused on the perceptions of public safety in the Twin Cities and the need to address issues concerning public safety in the upcoming session.
Gazelka said that in the last year the issue of public safety has “risen as an area that we see as a problem. You have near daily reports of gang violence spilling into the streets and public transit. I find that very alarming,” he said.
Gazelka (R-09), said that he’s talked to a lot of people from outstate that are concerned about coming into the Twin Cities and they’re wondering if it’s safe. Gazelka said that “we need to ensure them that we have a handle on this.” Gazelka said that his caucus is going to take a “strong look” at the issues around public safety in the upcoming session. “There’s a lot of talk about criminal justice reform, but we have to put public safety first,” he said.
Gazelka said “releasing repeat offenders for low level crimes, and not enforcing laws we currently have to keep guns out of the hands of criminals is not the direction we should go.”
We’re not going to wait until next session to start work on this, Gazelka said. He said Sen. Warren Limmer (R-34), and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety have already begun holding hearings on current gun laws as they relate to public safety, and that next week on Jan. 21 there will be another public hearing in Hibbing. He said one of the areas of discussion will be getting tougher on felons who have guns.
In the December presentation on Minnesota laws to prevent violence, Sen. Dan Hall (R-56) said, “It appears we have a much larger systemic problem,” referring to apparent lax sentencing on gun crimes. “Judges and prosecutors have been waiving the mandatory minimum sentence in 40% of gun violence felonies and sending the message that we’re not serious about these crimes.” Hall stated further that many of the crimes were committed by people who shouldn’t have been able to possess guns according to our current laws. “We may find we have decent laws on the books that are just not being enforced,” he said.
Limmer said that the upcoming hearing in Hibbing will include hearing specific proposals in the Senate that may address violence prevention. The Jan. 21 hearing will also provide citizens in Greater Minnesota the opportunity to hear from legislators and testify about their concerns directly before the committee. Members of the public that are interested in testifying at next week’s hearing must sign up no later than Jan. 15, and can do so by emailing Angela Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.