City Leaders Push Back On Preemptive Proposals

February 27, 2018 07:17 PM

(ABC 6 News)--It’s always a balancing act between local and state governing power. When it comes to the needs of their communities, elected officials feel they know what's best. But a recent article warns of a tend in Minnesota politics to undermine municipal authority.              

That’s why one Rochester council member is calling on lawmakers to support local decision making. “We understand the local communities better than those up in St. Paul,” said Michael Wojcik.


Wojcik is concerned with an increase in bills at the State Legislature which seeks to limit or eliminate local government control.  He says the city won't stand by idly. “We [Rochester City Council] unanimously passed a resolution saying don't preempt us,” said Wojcik. “Despite that, we even had Legislators from Rochester supporting preemption. We need to hold them accountable.”

Austin councilor, Steve King, says there has to be more balance. “The balance for them should be let’s look at the whole state, not micro-manage a city council like we see some of these preemptive laws that are being proposed are doing.”

According to the "League of Minnesota Cities" (LMC), during the 2017 session 30 bills that were introduced undermined regional power on things like garbage collection, building codes and determining local taxes.

“We have never seen the volumes of these bills as we have in 2017,” said Anne Finn, the Assistant Intergovernmental Relations Director for LMC. “And they are still coming. I mean we have seen already since the 2018 session has convened just last week, there is legislation that would preempt the ability of cites to regulate ride-sharing services.”

But lawmakers say when it comes to things like minimum wage and benefits, without statewide consistency, “It just creates chaos within the whole structure,” said Dave Senjem, a Republican State Senator.

“When the right issue comes up there might be benefits in having a statewide statute that would set everyone in the right direction,” said Duane Sauke, a DFL State Representative.

As to why we are seeing an increase in preemption proposals, the LMC thinks it's in part due to interest groups.

“It is just the totality of them and Legislators being willing to carry bills that preempt local control,” said Finn.

“We just need to do better for our citizens,” said Wojcik.

Of the 30 proposed preemption bills introduced in 2017, only 2 passed in their entirety.


Hannah Tiede

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