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Minnesota establishes ‘Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’

ST. PAUL, MN – Minnesota now has a ‘Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women‘.

The mission of the task force is to reduce and end violence against Indigenous women and girls in Minnesota.

The Commissioner of Public Safety, along with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, have until September to appoint members for the task force.

They will have to complete a report by December 2020 looking at the systemic causes behind violence and appropriate methods for tracking and collecting data, just to name a few aspects of the report.

The Governor is expected to hold a ceremonial bill signing for the task force.

LEGISLATION:

(a) By September 1, 2019, the commissioner, in consultation with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, shall appoint members to the Task Force on Missing and MurderedIndigenous Women to advise the commissioner and report to the legislature on recommendations to reduce andend violence against indigenous women and girls in Minnesota, including members of the two spirit community. The task force may also serve as a liaison between the commissioner and agencies and nongovernmental organizations that provide services to victims, victims’ families, and victims’ communities. Task force members may receive expense reimbursement as specified in Minnesota Statutes, section 15.059, subdivision 6.

(b) The Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women must examine and report on the following:

(1) the systemic causes behind violence that indigenous women and girls experience, including patterns and underlying factors that explain why disproportionately high levels of violence occur against indigenous women and girls, including underlying historical, social, economic, institutional, and cultural factors which may contribute to the violence;

(2) appropriate methods for tracking and collecting data on violence against indigenous women andgirls, including data on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls;

(3) policies and institutions such as policing, child welfare, coroner practices, and other governmental practices that impact violence against indigenous women and girls and the investigation and prosecution of crimes of gender violence against indigenous people;

(4) measures necessary to address and reduce violence against indigenous women and girls; and

(5) measures to help victims, victims’ families, and victims’ communities prevent and heal from violence that occurs against indigenous women and girls.

(c) For the purposes of this section, “commissioner” means the commissioner of public safety and“nongovernmental organizations” means nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations that provide legal, social, or other community services.

(a) To the extent practicable, the Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women shall consist of the following individuals, or their designees, who are knowledgeable in crime victims’ rights or violence protection and, unless otherwise specified, members shall be appointed by the commissioner:

(1) two members of the senate, one appointed by the majority leader and one appointed by the minority leader;

(2) two members of the house of representatives, one appointed by the speaker of the house and one appointed by the minority leader;

(3) two representatives from among the following:

(i) the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association;

(ii) the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association;

(iii) the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension;

(iv) the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association; or

(v) a peace officer who works for and resides on a federally recognized American Indian reservation in Minnesota;

(4) one or more representatives from among the following:

(i) the Minnesota County Attorneys Association;

(ii) the United States Attorney’s Office; or

(iii) a judge or attorney working in juvenile court;

(5) a county coroner or a representative from a statewide coroner’s association or a representative of the Department of Health;

(6) one representative from each of the 11 federally recognized tribal governments, with a preference for individuals who work with victims of violence or their families; and

(7) four or more representatives from among the following:

(i) a tribal, statewide, or local organization that provides legal services to indigenous women and girls;

(ii) a tribal, statewide, or local organization that provides advocacy or counseling for indigenous women and girls who have been victims of violence;

(iii) a tribal, statewide, or local organization that provides services to indigenous women and girls;

(iv) the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition;

(v) Mending the Sacred Hoop;

(vi) an Indian health organization or agency; or

(vii) an indigenous woman who is a survivor of gender violence.

(b) Members of the task force serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority or until the task force expires. Vacancies in commissioner appointed positions shall be filled by the commissioner consistent with the qualifications of the vacating member required by this subdivision.

(a) The task force members shall annually elect a chair and vice-chair from among the task force’s members, and may elect other officers as necessary. The task force shall meet at least quarterly, or upon the call of its chair, and may hold meetings throughout the state. The task force shall meet sufficiently enough to accomplish the tasks identified in this section. Meetings of the task force are subject to Minnesota Statutes, chapter 13D. The task force shall seek out and enlist the cooperation and assistance of nongovernmental organizations, community and advocacy organizations working with the American Indian community, and academic researchers and experts, specifically those specializing in violence against indigenous women and girls, representing diverse communities disproportionately affected by violence against women andgirls, or focusing on issues related to gender violence and violence against indigenous women and girls.

(b) The commissioner shall convene the first meeting of the task force no later than October 1, 2019, and shall provide meeting space and administrative assistance as necessary for the task force to conduct its work.

The task force shall report to the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees and divisions with jurisdiction over public safety, human services, and state government on the work of the task force, including but not limited to the issues to be examined in subdivision 1, and shall include in the report institutional policies and practices or proposed institutional policies and practices that are effective in reducing gender violence and increasing the safety of indigenous women and girls. The report shall include recommendations to reduce and end violence against indigenous women and girls and help victims andcommunities heal from gender violence and violence against indigenous women and girls. The report shall be submitted to the legislative committees by December 15, 2020.

Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, section 15.059, the task force expires December 31, 2020.

The revisor of statutes shall make any cross-reference changes, language changes, or both to Minnesota Statutes made necessary by section 17.

Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 13.72, subdivision 9, is repealed.

This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Ramona Marozas

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