Tell Legislative Leaders to End Attack on Local Control Once & For All

We asked you and other Land Stewardship Project members to make calls (see action alert below) to Minnesota state legislators opposing the bill to weaken local control and you did! Senators were flooded with calls and this bill, which was on track to pass when this action alert went out over the weekend, stalled in the Senate Local Government Committee on Monday. At the hearing, after strong testimony in opposition and Senators on the committee voicing concerns, Chair Sen. Patricia Torres Ray tabled the bill. The bill needed to advance past this committee to meet a critical legislative deadline.

Nothing is certain until the legislative session adjourns on May 23, but this is good news and the result of legislators responding to grassroots opposition. Take action now to give your legislative leaders an update and let them know you want this to be the end of the issue.

Calls needed TODAY: Bill to Weaken MN
Local Control Gets Senate Hearing on Monday

Corporate interests are pushing bills to weaken the rights of Minnesota cities and townships to effectively respond to unwanted and potentially harmful developments. This in turn weakens our ability as citizens to work through our local government to protect our community.

House File 2585: Reps. Jim Nash (R-Waconia), Mark Uglem (R-Champlin), Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park), Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul), Josh Heintzeman (R-Baxter), Jerry Hertaus (R-Greenfield), Linda Runbeck (R- Circle Pines)

Senate File 2694: Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina)

The bills weaken the interim ordinance powers of townships and cities. Interim ordinances allow cities or townships to quickly put a temporary moratorium on major development. This is an emergency power that is essential when the community is caught off-guard by unanticipated and potentially harmful proposals, especially those from outside corporate interests.

The interim ordinance freezes the status quo and gives the community time to review or create the appropriate zoning ordinances. Corporate interests have long pushed to weaken these rights because citizens have used them effectively to stop unwanted developments like factory farms.

The bills require a two-thirds super majority to enact an interim ordinance. Currently, an interim ordinance can be enacted by a simple majority — that’s how democratic rights should work.

The bills would delay enactment of an emergency interim ordinance for so long that it will often be ineffective. The bill requires public notice and a public hearing before a city or township enacts an emergency interim ordinance on "activities related to housing." The problem with this is that neighbors often don't learn about a proposed project until just days before a permit is going to be issued.

Under this bill, by the time the township or city posts a notice and has a public hearing on adopting the moratorium, the project could already be permitted. This provision is particularly problematic for township boards and small cities, which often only meet once a month. For them, meeting this requirement may take months. By that time, the project could be permitted and the moratorium be ineffective.

We are making progress. Because of grassroots opposition, two co-authors took their name off the bill. Rep Paul Thissen in the House and Sen. Karin Housley in the Senate removed their names from the bill. That leaves only one author in the Senate and this is a clear signal to others that this bill is controversial and not liked.

However, the bill did move out of the House Government Operations Committee on March 24 and gets a Senate hearing this Monday, April 4.

TAKE ACTION! The Senate bill will get a hearing in the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Monday at 2 p.m. All members of the Senate Local Government Committee, as well as the bill author, Sen. Melisa Franzen, need to hear from you that this bill is bad for local democracy and you oppose it.

Suggested message:

“On Monday, April 4, Senate File 2694 will be heard in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Minnesotans value strong local control and township rights. Senate File 2694 weakens these rights and I oppose it. Townships and cities need to keep their power to enact an interim ordinance strong. An interim ordinance is an emergency power that in order to work needs to be enacted quickly. It allows for a moratorium on major development when the community is caught off-guard by unanticipated and potentially harmful proposed developments. Township and city local control is working as it stands now and should be left alone, especially during this year’s rushed and unusually short legislative session.”

Telephone calls are best. You can call now and leave a message. Be sure and leave your name and where you are calling from.

Top priority calls:

Author of the bill: Senator Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina) at 651-296-6238 or MAIL FORM

Members of the Senate Local Government Committee:

If you have more time, the rest of the committee consists of:

Please let the Land Stewardship Project's Bobby King know if you need more information or hear back from any legislators.