After the companion bills (HF1510/SF1322) designed to re-open the CCA/CoreCivic private prison in Appleton, MN, weren't heard in either chamber of the Minnesota Legislature before the first committee deadline, Bluestem reviewed the situation in pur post Bills to re-open Appleton prison missed hearing deadlines, so how does option move forward?
HF1510 is now on the calendar for Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 10:15 a.m. at the webpage for the Minnesota House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee. Chair Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, is a co-author of the bill, as is Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown.
But don't cry for Tim Miller.
He did manage to snag some campaign cash from Corrections Corporation of America's executives and their spouses, as well as from a couple of CCA corporate lobbyists. From his pre-general election report to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board (available here):
There's $250.00 each from CCA Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President David Garfunkle and his wife Carrie, both of Franklin, Tennessee, followed by the same amounts from CCA Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Anthony Grande and his wife, as well as from CCA President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director Damon Hininger and his wife (page 4 of Miller's 2016 pre-general report).
Former Appleton warden Daren Swenson, now CCA's Tennessee-based Vice President, Facility Operations, Business Unit 2 also gave Miller $250 (page 6 of Miller's 2016 pre-general report).
Finally, there's the $500 each of CCA's corporate lobbyists (Kelly Durham and Brad Regens, page 7 of Miller's 2016 pre-general report) handed over.
All that money must be smooth as Tennessee whiskey for blunting the blow of rejection by Swift County's finest news source (We're not being snarly about the Monitor, whose editor is highly respected among country newspaper people).
An we haven't even touched on CCA's contributions to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which has given $755,000 in the last ten days to the MN Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund.
According to figures just released by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, CoreCivic (fka Corrections Corp of America) spent $65,000.00 in 2016 and $50,255.40 in 2015 to lobby the state legislature. Via a contract with Goff Public, Swift County has also lobbied the legislature to open the prison. In July 2016, Bluestem reported County board minutes indicate Swift Co paid Goff Public $40,043.67 for prison reopening lobbying. As we reported in CCA is now CoreCivic: Cornish leans toward renting rebranded private prison in Appleton, the county was hiring the lobbying firm again for the 2017 session.
When an earlier version of Miller's bill was heard in committee in 2016, protestors caused the hearing to be recessed for a time. Workday Minnesota reported in Private prison debate raises issues of race, justice:
Issues of race, poverty and justice bubbled to the surface in an emotional hearing Tuesday over legislation to re-open a privately run state prison in Appleton, Minn.
After several protesters disrupted the proceedings, the chair of the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee recessed the meeting to clear the room. In the end, with 10 Republican members voting in favor and 7 DFL members voting against, the committee approved HR3223 (link is external) and sent it the Ways and Means Committee.
Prairie Correction Facility in Appleton, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, closed in 2010. At one time, it employed more than 350 people and held about 1,600 inmates.
The bill authored by Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, would require the state to enter into a contract to lease and operate the facility. Prinsburg said a privately run prison would ease current overcrowding and create much-needed jobs in an economically depressed area of the state.
“Thousands of businesses, most of them mom-and-pop, most of them family-owned, would benefit from this prison opening again,” said Paul Raymo, president of the Appleton Area Chamber of Commerce.
But several groups lined up to oppose the plan, including AFSCME (link is external) – the union that represents correctional officers, the religious coalition ISAIAH (link is external) and the community group #BlackLivesMatter. They said more prisons are not the answer and that prisons should not be run by profit-making corporations.
“This isn’t about the people of Appleton,” said the Rev. Brian Herron of Zion Baptist Church. “We face the very same dilemma in north Minneapolis about unemployment.
“Why are we having discussions about building an economy off of black and brown bodies?”
Nekima Levy Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP (link is external), said, “I have not heard any discussion about the high unemployment in the inner city communities that are actually fueling the incarceration rate.”
She urged lawmakers to consider other proposals, such as reforms to the probation system. . . .
The hearing schedules for Tuesday, March 21 and Wednesday, March 22 the Minnesota Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee have yet to be announced.
Photo: The closed Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, MN.
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