ACLU-MN is working on both a defensive and proactive strategy for the 2018 legislative session. Here are some of our priorities heading into the session.
ACLU of Minnesota is gearing up for the 2018 Minnesota legislative session that started on February 20. This year's short session will last only three months, and there is no shortage of critical bills that legislators will be considering. From criminal justice reform to reproductive rights, here's a quick look at some of the bills the ACLU-MN will be watching closely this session.
Criminal Justice Reform. We are continuing to work on criminal justice reform, including reforms to probation and civil asset forfeiture. This session, we will be proactively pushing for a bill that would create a 5-year cap to probation sentencing for most criminal punishments, as well as a fines and fees reform that would address driving-related fines, fees, and license suspensions. The bill would reform Minnesota's current system, which too often leads to an escalation of consequences for otherwise low-level offenses and has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and communities of color.
Voting Rights. We are also working to restore the vote to over 50,000 people living and working in our communities who are denied the right to vote because they have a felony conviction on their record. We are also working to defend voting rights, as currently introduced HF 60 amd HF1586/SF 1225 threaten to suppress voter rights and create a system of provisional balloting.
Reproductive Freedom. While Minnesota is often considered progressive in terms of reproductive rights, there are often anti-reproductive freedom bills introduced at the Capitol. Last session, two bills were passed through both chambers and ultimately vetoed by the Governor. This year, there are multiple bills, including a full abortion ban, already introduced. We are also anticipating other legislation, including a mandatory ultrasound bill. ACLU-MN works closely with other reproductive rights organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota to resist and defeat attempts to undermine the constitutional right to access abortion and comprehensive reproductive care.
Trans Rights. The fight for bodily autonomy is also taking place with anti-transgender bills like HF 41, an anti-transgender bathroom bill, and HF 1183, a discriminatory bill that would allow health care plans to refuse coverage for transition-related healthcare services. Neither of these bills received hearings last legislative session, but we will continue to monitor them closely.
Immigrant Rights. In the immigrant rights landscape, there are two bills carrying over from the 2017 legislature: HF 26, which would allow police departments to hold immigrants without probable cause for Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and HF 1664/SF 881, which would punish governments for supporting sanctuary policies.
Privacy and Technology. We are continuing to work on advancing privacy and technology protections, including pushing for reforms to drone use by law enforcement, privacy protections for electronic communications, and student data privacy.
First Amendment and Free Speech. Finally, we’ll be at the Capitol fighting to ensure the First Amendment right to protest is not chilled by legislation targeting protestors with unnecessary criminal penalties and exorbitant fines. Last year, as part of a national trend, legislators introduced several bills in response to recent protests of police violence. We will continue to fight protest suppression efforts that are aimed at quelling dissent and chilling free speech.
Want to learn more? Check out the video below to hear from Legislative Director Ben Feist about what to expect in the upcoming weeks of session. And check our Facebook Live calendar for future legislative updates!