Bills aimed at new ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul have provoked consternation from leaders in the state’s two biggest cities. But it’s not just big cities crying foul.
Leaders from five groups representing cities, including the League of Minnesota Cities, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Association of Small Cities sent a letter last week to legislative leaders, outlining their concerns about a “trend” of bills that would “undermine established local decisionmaking authority.”
Among the ideas that have cities worried: bills that would allow some businesses access to public rights of way; require state or regional buy-in for local decisions; and limit cities’ abilities to consider light-rail projects and to reduce state funding for reasons unrelated to the state’s typical formula for handing out local government aid. Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, introduced a bill that would restrict funding for cities that approved labor mandates, like paid sick leave or a higher minimum wage.
Lawmakers who introduced some of the bills, like those blocking local ordinances mandating sick leave and banning plastic bags, say they’re trying to avoid a patchwork of regulations around the state. Many argued that cities acting alone on business-related regulations could harm the entire state’s economy.
The cities don’t see it that way. From the letter: “Such bills would seem to presume, however unintentionally, that there is a one-size-fits-all law that fits every community, or in other cases that the Legislature itself is in a better position to decide issues that are clearly local in nature.”