House File 2585, the bill that weakens local control in Minnesota, will be on the House Floor on Wednesday, May 11, and calls are needed now. Minnesotans value strong local democracy and want local governments to have the power to protect the community from unwanted development. But with just over two weeks left in the legislative session, corporate interests are making a last-minute push on a bill to weaken the rights of cities and townships to effectively respond to unwanted and potentially harmful developments.
• 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), Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines)
The bill weakens 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 bill requires 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 bill delays enactment of an emergency interim ordinance for so long that it will often be ineffective. The bill requires a 10-day public notice and a public hearing before a city or township enacts an interim ordinance on "activities related to housing." An interim ordinance is an emergency power that needs to be enacted quickly to be effective. 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 have made progress put corporate interests won't give up. Because of your calls we stopped the Senate companion bill (Senate File 2694) from getting out of committee and meeting a critical legislative deadline. Normally that would mean the House companion bill is dead, but Rep. Nash and corporate interests are still pushing.