The Minnesota Legislature just passed its first committee deadline at midnight Friday, and that means we’re getting a better sense of what could make it to the floor for a vote.
Several issues the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota started pushing at the very beginning of the legislative session are still in play, including:
- Voting rights restoration.
- Forfeiture, fines and fees, and probation reform.
- Drone privacy, cell phone location tracking, and ensuring the privacy of personal social media accounts for employees.
There’s so much energy and enthusiasm for reform, we’re delighted to say that even more bills have been introduced that we support, including:
- Allowing assistance for more people in need at the polls.
- Bail reform.
- Net neutrality.
- Immigrant driver’s licenses and post-conviction relief for people facing detention or deportation.
- Marijuana reforms including less punitive sentencing.
- A ban on conversion therapy for minors.
Marijuana legalization died in the Senate, but got further along in the hearing process than ever before. ACLU-MN supports legalizing recreational marijuana to help reduce some of the racial disparities that plague our criminal justice system. Efforts to study the issue with a task force and to make sentencing less punitive are still moving ahead in the Legislature.
The effort to ensure data privacy for students’ own accounts didn’t get a hearing, but we have good reason to believe the bill will be heard next session.
Everything else on the list above made it past the first deadline.
Unfortunately, so did some bills in the Senate that blatantly violate our civil liberties. We’re vigorously opposing two bills authored by Republican Sen. Michelle Benson and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka that seek to limit a woman’s right to choose.
SF 1609 essentially would ban abortions at 20 weeks except to save a woman’s life or prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” The bill requires that abortions after 20 weeks use the method that gives the fetus the best chance to survive. Violations would be a felony.
The other anti-choice bill, SF 1168, would require providers to inform patients they can view an ultrasound of the fetus.
The third troublesome bill we’re watching, SF 1109, would curtail voting rights. A voter whose eligibility was challenged would have to cast a provisional ballet and show up within seven days after the election to prove they’re eligible, long after votes already have been counted.
Find more information about these bills at https://www.aclu-mn.org/en/legislation.