The state legislative session that started with such promise for civil liberties ended with a whimper.
ACLU-MN priorities sailed through the House with strong support all session, including criminal justice reforms such as capping probation terms, limiting cash bail, ending civil forfeitures, and stopping driver’s license suspensions for failure to pay fines and fees that disproportionately hurt people of color and people with lower incomes. Immigrant driver’s licenses, restoring the vote, net neutrality, and a ban on LGBTQ “conversion therapy” for children also advanced in the House, but stalled in the Senate.
In both chambers, ACLU-MN found support to increase social media privacy, require warrants for drone surveillance, enhance email privacy and create transparency around cell phone tracking.
But these reforms disappeared in the last hours of the legislative session when top legislative leaders and the governor met behind closed doors in a striking lack of transparency that once again marked the end of session.
Issues that civil liberties and social justice groups have long championed finally got a hearing, gaining public attention and strong support from key lawmakers. Coalitions are stronger and more engaged than ever.
ACLU-MN members showed up in record numbers for Lobby Day, then kept writing, calling and talking to their legislators.
ACLU-MN will enter the next legislative session full of fire and do our best – along with you – to make sure that our precious civil liberties get their day, and a vote, in our Legislature.
Positive bills ACLU-MN supported:
- Reestablishing an Ombudsperson for the Department of Corrections to investigate complaints, which promotes more transparency and accountability.
- Solitary confinement reform that requires monitoring, reporting, and limiting the use of isolation in Minnesota prisons.
- The ability for people who are wrongfully convicted to seek compensation.
Anti-civil rights bills we helped defeat:
- A ban on abortions after 20 weeks unless necessary to prevent a woman’s death or “substantial and irreversible physical impairment,” excluding the risk of psychological or emotional harm. It was in a Senate omnibus bill.
- A related bill requiring physicians to invite the viewing of ultrasounds prior to an abortion.
- A pipeline-protest bill aimed at increasing criminal penalties for pipeline protesters and lowering the bar to charge them. It would have had a chilling effect on free speech, and targeted indigenous and environmental activists.
- A provisional-ballot bill requiring people whose voting eligibility was challenged to use a provisional ballot, potentially not having their vote counted.
- A measure establishing scholarship tax credits (school vouchers in disguise) that would have effectively allowed public money to go to private and religious schools.