Senator Limmer: Restoring Voting Rights to Felons ‘A Little Too Fast’
The Minnesota Senate voted to restore voting rights to convicted felons as soon as they get out of prison in a 35-30 vote Tuesday. Local DFL lawmakers see it as a way to reintegrate former inmates into society. But the legislation doesn’t sit well with Republican Senator Warren Limmer of Maple Grove.
“I just think it’s a little too fast, a little too quick,” said Sen. Limmer, speaking on the Minnesota Senate floor.
The bill, SF26, allows convicted felons to vote as soon they get out of prison instead of requiring them to complete their probation first. Limmer, a ranking minority member of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, says probation serves a purpose.
“Probation is a testing time. It’s not a get out of jail and your sentence is over,” said Limmer. “And what my individual studies have revealed, is it does not bring a lowering of recidivism I’m sorry to say.”
Attempts by Republicans to weaken the bill failed, including one amendment to exclude people convicted of violent crimes.
Other local Democrats point out it is the courts that have deemed formerly incarcerated individuals safe for release.
“The fact is at some point, 95 percent of incarcerated persons are going to be released from prison and reenter our communities,” said Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, who voted in favor of the bill. “We want them to safely and successfully reintegrate into our community, to get jobs, housing, community involvement and education. Voting is a piece of that.”
DFL Senators Bonnie Westlin of Plymouth, Susan Pha of Brooklyn Park and Ann Rest of New Hope also voted yes.
The Minnesota House passed companion legislation in a 71-59 vote earlier this month. Governor Tim Walz is expected to sign the bill, making Minnesota the 22nd state to have such legislation.
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