Public Safety, Veterans and State Government

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Sen. Hoffman named Legislator of the Year by Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA)

Sen. Hoffman and Sgt. Paul Ford, MPPOA President.
Sen. Hoffman and Sgt. Paul Ford, MPPOA President.

ST. PAUL, Minn– Citing his dedication to the safety of Minnesota police officers and other emergency personnel, the MPPOA honored Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin) this week with its 2016 Legislator of the Year award.

“Senator Hoffman understands the challenges police officers face on a daily basis. He has a keen understanding of the importance of public safety and the association recognizes his concrete efforts in helping law enforcement to provide for the safety of our communities and the protection of our members” stated Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Executive Director, Dennis Flaherty.

Senator Hoffman was the chief author of legislation this session designed to assist peace officers and other emergency personnel should they obtain significant exposure to bodily fluids while on duty and thus, face the risk of infection. There has been long standing protocol in state law that dictates how hospitals must deal with emergency workers who face infection risk from blood borne pathogens, but the law had not addressed these same concerns for police and emergency personnel until this year. Flaherty said Hoffman’s legislation will allow a court to order an individual to submit blood for testing.

“I’m very honored to receive this award from MPPOA. Law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way every day in order to keep their communities safe. Ensuring they are protected when members of the public may have infected them with a serious disease is the least we can do. It’s been great working with MPPOA this past session on this legislation, and I look forward to doing more good work with them in the future,” said Sen. Hoffman.

Hoffman also co-sponsored legislation this session clarifying the statute of fourth degree assault against a peace officer, which provides enhanced penalties for physically assaulting a police officer or for intentionally throwing or otherwise transferring bodily fluids or feces at or onto the police officer. Both of Hoffman’s provisions were signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton.

Bills Sponsored and Supported

Sen. Hoffman authored a bill in 2014 that provided Anoka County some flexibility in paying for its new public safety data system. Initially, the County was authorized to sell bonds to pay for the system. The bill Sen. Hoffman passed allows the County to levy for the cost instead. By paying cash, the County – and its taxpayers – will save an estimated $600,000 in interest payments over the years.

Senator Hoffman was Author and Chief Author on the following bills all related to Public Safety:

SF3350

Ex parte hearing authorization for determination of emergency medical service person exposure to individuals bodily fluids establishment; peace officer taking of noncompliant individual into temporary custody to collect blood sample authorization.

SF3619

Child victims of crime speedy trials authorization

SF2227

Fourth degree assault against a peace officer clarification

SF2680

Felony assaults motivated by bias maximum penalty increase.  Read about our efforts on Bias Crime here and the difference between the house and Senate.

Crime and Guns

Drug sentencing reform

The drug sentencing bill represents a compromise of various groups and is the first overhaul of our drug sentencing laws in years. In short, the law now treats drug dealers as dealers, and addicts as addicts. Those who are high-level drug dealers who bring poison and violence into our communities will be going to prison for a longer time, and those who are stuck in the cycle of addiction will be able to get the help they need in kicking their habit.

  • Hoffman supported the first overhaul of our drug sentencing laws in years. Instead of ignoring the underlying issues of addictions and incarcerating nonviolent addicts, Minnesota will emphasize medical support for individuals addicted to drugs by investing in chemical dependency treatment. This treatment is coupled with harsher penalties on dangerous drug dealers. With fewer drug dealers on the street and fewer people addicted to drugs, Minnesota’s communities will be safer. (Drug sentencing reform, S.F. 3481, 5/16/2016, 45-19)

Police body cameras

This bill regulates the use of body cameras worn by peace officers, and classifies the data generated by the cameras. Body camera data is private data on individuals or nonpublic data, unless certain criteria are met.

  • Hoffman supported a body camera regulation bill desired by both law enforcement agencies and community members.
  • The body camera regulations that were passed provide a process by which members of the public can access body camera footage if they are concerned about a particular encounter with police, but also protects the privacy of crime victims, medical patients, and other vulnerable people who may find themselves in embarrassing or compromising situations, often through no fault of their own.  (Police body cameras, F. 498, 5/2/16, 47-14; and 5/21/16, 41-17)

State Government

Military and Veterans Funding:

Sen. Hoffman has supported millions of dollars in benefits to active military members, veterans, and their families since 2013.

  • Hoffman voted for $8.7 million in additional funding for veterans in 2013, which included a doubling of financial resources for county veterans service officers (CVSOs), who are the first point of contact for veterans seeking assistance. (2013 Omnibus State Government Bill Conference Report, 5/20/13, S.F. 1589)
  • Hoffman supported $17 million in additional funding for Minnesota’s veterans homes.(2015 State Departments Omnibus Conference Report, 5/18/15, S.F. 888)
  • He supported a national initiative to help military service members, their spouses, and veterans up to two years after discharge receive a temporary license to practice their profession in Minnesota and a more streamlined process to become permanently licensed in Minnesota. (2014 Supplemental Omnibus Finance Bill, 5/16/14, F. 3172)
  • Hoffman voted for almost a million dollars in 2016 for veterans’ housing, veterans’ mental health support, and National Guard facility security improvements. (2016 Supplemental Budget Bill, 5/22/16, H.F. 2749)
  • Hoffman voted to allow military retirees to deduct their pension benefits from taxable income, a provision that will save 19,000 military retirees over $25 million every year.(2016 Supplemental Budget Bill, 5/22/16, H.F. 2749)

Bill helps streamline driver’s license process for Minnesota veterans

The frustrating and unfair experience of one of Sen. John Hoffman’s (DFL-Champlin) constituents served as inspiration for a bill that allows active duty members of the military to retake driver’s license tests without adhering to the mandatory practice period under Minnesota law. The bill, which was passed unanimously on the Senate floor Monday, streamlines the process for active duty military personnel to re-take either the skills or road test portion of the driver’s license test. Sen. Hoffman says it was the personal story of Douglas Washington — a young active duty member of the Navy who inspired him to chief author the bill.

“We need to make sure our active duty military are given the respect they deserve by being flexible in not only how we provide services to them but when. Members of the military frequently receive little warning before they must be report for duty in another state or country. This uncertainness can really hinder their ability to take and pass a skills or road driver’s license test if they didn’t pass the first time. My constituent Douglas’ had a really bad experience and ended up having to report for duty before he successfully passed his driver’s test. His experience is something that should never happen to any of our active military personnel,” said Sen. Hoffman.

Minnesota law currently states, when an individual fails a skills or road driver’s license test there is a mandatory waiting period before the individual may retake the test. This bill would exempt active duty military personnel from this waiting period. In order to retake the test, the individual must present documentation proving they are active duty military personnel.

Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA)

  • Hoffman voted for the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), which provides workplace protections for women, funds grants to women-owned businesses, allows employed mothers more time with their children, and ensures victims of assault receive the care they need. (WESA, 5/8/14, H.F. 2536)

Pensions

Public Pension Management

Minnesota continues to have a strong pension system, with only 2% of Minnesota state and local government spending on public pensions, which is the sixth lowest ratio in the country and just half the national average of 4.1% as a percentage of total direct general spending. State aid increases for public pension plans in 2013 and 2014 were accompanied by increased contributions required from public employees and employers into the plans, so that pension liabilities are a shared sacrifice.

  • Hoffman supported increased pension contributions from public employees to ensure public pension plans remain adequately funded and employees contribute a sufficient amount to their pensions. These increased contributions protect retirees and ensure pension disbursements do not exceed assets. (2013 Omnibus Retirement Bill, 5/17/13, S.F. 489) (2014 Omnibus Retirement Bill, 5/16/14, H.F. 1951)
  • Hoffman voted in favor of reducing state aid to the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) for the previous merger of the Minneapolis Employee Retirement Fund, which saves $36 million per biennium. (2015 Omnibus State Departments Bill, 5/18/15, S.F. 888)
  • Hoffman supported a more conservative investment return assumption on pension assets moving forward, which results in a lower likelihood of a funding deficiency in the future. (2015 Omnibus Retirement Bill, 5/17/15, S.F. 1398)

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