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Relating to municipalities that adopt budgets that defund municipal police departments.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
However, there could be an indeterminate increase to the General Revenue Fund if an applicable municipality is determined to have adopted a budget that defunds the municipal police department.
HB 1900 addresses the issue of municipal defunding of police departments.
HB 1900 would require the Governor's office to determine whether municipalities with more than 250,000 people are defunding municipalities, defined as a municipality that adopts a budget which reduces the appropriation to their law enforcement agency. Such a municipality would be exempt if the reduction in law enforcement appropriation is proportionate to a percentage reduction in their overall budget or if they receive prior approval from the Governor's office.
The consequences of being designated a defunding municipality would be significant.
A defunding municipality would be stripped of is annexation authority until at least 10 years after the Governor’s office has determined that it reversed the defunding of its law enforcement agency.
A defunding municipality would have to hold an election in each area it annexed in the prior 30 years on whether or not to disannex the area. Residents in a disannexed area would be permitted to start a petition to be annexed by an eligible neighboring municipality. If the petition meets certain requirements, the eligible municipality would be able to annex the area.
A defunding municipality would also face significant fiscal consequences including restrictions on changing tax rates, the withholding of certain sales tax revenues, and decreasing funding to public employee retirement benefits.
Finally, defunding municipalities with a
municipally-owned public utility would not be able to increase rates or fees
charged to customers.
The issue of municipal defunding of police departments is a serious issue that the legislature is correct to address, particularly for situations in which substantial defunding would lead to an increase in lawlessness and a corresponding decrease in public safety. We support these provisions of the bill, including the very steep penalties to which a defunding municipality would be subjected.
However, we have serious reservations about the mechanism for designating a municipality as a defunding municipality. This should be a function of the legislature, not a unilateral power vested in the office of the governor, no matter how narrowly tailored it may be.
Due to our concerns about vesting this new power in the office of the governor, we are unable to support HB 1900 outright. We would fully support the bill if amended to require legislative oversight to confirm the governor's decision to designate a municipality as defunding.