Two more bills are on their way to the governor’s desk: one to restore voting rights to felons when they leave prison and another to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Current state law requires felons to complete their entire sentence before regaining the right to vote, including probation or parole. HF28 will allow felons to vote whenever they are not incarcerated.
“For more than a decade, I have had the honor to work with Minnesotans of all walks of life from across our state to restore this right, and now together our hard work has gotten us over the finish line. We, as a great state, should celebrate this moment because those 55,000 people who will have their rights restored are our friends, neighbors, and family members,” said Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, lead author of the bill.
Republicans unsuccessfully attempted to amend the bill to prevent certain violent criminals and those convicted of felony voter fraud from regaining the right to vote until after serving their full sentence.
The Senate debated a bill today to restore felons' voting rights once they leave prison. They rejected an amendment to prohibit child rapists from voting until they complete probation.
"Survivors also support restore the vote," Sen. Champion claimed. pic.twitter.com/bY26lAz9TH
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) February 21, 2023
“Minnesota families are expecting legislators to develop solutions to reduce record-breaking crime and violence. Instead, Minnesota Senate Democrats are leaving Minnesotans vulnerable by focusing on providing full state privileges and benefits of convicted felons and non-citizens here illegally,” Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said.
During a House floor debate earlier this month, some Democrats admitted that they think felons should never lose their right to vote.
The second bill, HF4, will allow those who are present in the country illegally to apply for state driver’s licenses. Republicans said the bill doesn’t do enough to prevent illegal immigrants from using their IDs to vote or sign up for benefits.
Police groups backed the legislation and said it will make Minnesota’s roads safer. They argued that illegal immigrants already drive to work and school but do so without insurance or passing any written and on-the-road exams.
“Minnesotans are compassionate and we want safe roads, but this bill goes far, far beyond a simple public safety fix,” said Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault. “It is overly expansive with major flaws that create a serious threat to our national security and put the integrity of our elections in jeopardy. We have tried to address these flaws and fix the bill with commonsense amendments that would put simple protections in place to protect our state’s security and elections, but unfortunately, Democrats are more interested in passing their extreme partisan agenda than securing our state’s future.”