Governor Tim Walz currently has the sole power to appoint all 17 members of the D.C. Council and appoint a president to serve in his cabinet. While appointments are subject to Senate confirmation, such votes rarely occur.
That makes Walls — and all of Minnesota’s governors — the most powerful player in territorial decisions about transit, wastewater treatment, regional parks, and overall land use. Why would he want to give up this power?
The D.C. Council has been mired in controversy and criticism, much of it stemming from the long and troubled Southwest Light Rail Transit project, a 14.5-mile stretch of the existing Green Line to Eden Prairie. While SWLRT wasn’t a problem in his most recent campaign, it has become more of a political liability than a benefit.
The DFL governor this week repeated that he’s all for making proposals in both the state houses and the Senate to strip appointment powers and give them to voters in the seven-county Met council district. He also said that the council’s reforms should look beyond how the council is chosen and include how it operates, ensuring better efficiency and accountability.
“The question I have is, I don’t know if [making the seats elected] “It guarantees a solution, and the results we need,” Walz said.
At the time of its creation, Walz said, the board was considered groundbreaking. The council oversees vital regional services and was intended to prevail over the regional interests of the various cities and provinces. But while the pastors wanted an elected assembly, a bill with this clause was rejected by the then government. Arne Carson. The given model met its requirements and was approved.
“But we saw that it looked a little cumbersome,” Walz said of the Met Council’s structure. How do we get around that? The Met Council does a lot of incredibly good things, but as we’ve seen, there were things that were sloppy and just not what the public expected.
“I think they need to think about the internal structures as well, as well as whether people get elected or appointed,” he said. “You don’t have to look any further than Congress to see, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get more efficiency once someone gets elected.”
In the later sessions of the legislature when the Republicans held more power, the Met House was a prime target, and criticism was directed partly at the agency itself and partly at opposition to fixed-track light rail. But with the DFL trifecta running St. Paul, lawmakers who support mass transit haven’t given the council any breathing space.
The two most powerful transportation players in the Minnesota legislature agree that the currently appointed Met Council should be suspended and replaced, most likely with an elected one. What they haven’t agreed on yet is how to get there.
The two massive university bills passed by the House and Senate transportation committees include two different ways of examining and changing the management of the regional transportation, wastewater, parks, and land use board. The House version would create a task force to propose changes, while the Senate version would create a charter committee to propose a new constitution for the seven-province regional government.
While that sounds like the same thing, Rep. Frank Hornstein’s proposed task force would report to the legislature. The charter committee proposed by Sen. Scott Dibble would report to the constituents of the Seven Regions House district.
Only one copy can pass the legislature. Without agreement, nothing passes.
“The last word hasn’t been said yet,” Dibble said of the differences in approach.
The Minneapolis DFLers are allies in transportation policy and have produced very similar transportation bills. Both include hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue for roads, bridges, transit, and “active” transportation like walking and cycling. Both want changes at the Met Council.
“It’s a way to create a more robust and effective regional dialogue,” Dibble said of his charter committee. Dibble is aware of the task force
concept but opts for something more direct.
“Both are really good ideas,” Dibble said. But the charter course will require the vote of those who live in the Met Council district, which includes all or most of Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Anoka, Scott, and Carver counties. Public votes are required when cities or counties attempt to become home rule or amend their charters. Dibble envisions the Met Council following a similar process.
“He can be elected. He can be elected,” Dibble said of whatever the charter committee ends up sending to the electorate. “But I think it will be. Once people really research and analyze the nature of the D.C. Council, this becomes a local government council with tax and legislative powers… The only logical conclusion is that it should be elected.”
dibble said his committee In March, the Met’s board was considered unique—ironically—among regional governments across the United States and unique among any Minnesota government entities. Only the Portland, Oregon, area has a similar council, but its councilors are elected. A council is a political division of a state like a city or county but also a cabinet-level agency with a full-time chair appointed by the governor, Dibble said. It has broad authority over land use, housing, waste water and transit with some taxing powers as well.
Hornstein has long favored an elected council over one appointed every four years by conservatives. But he said he didn’t think there were enough votes in the legislature to get there now. But he said problems with the Met Council, particularly its management of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, had brought about an agreement that something needed to change.
Hornstein was prepared to criticize that his task force was merely delaying the case, and that it would result in just another study.
He said before his committee last month: “In my faith we begin Easter by asking: ‘Why is this night different from all other nights? You might ask, “Why is this task force different from all the other task forces we have?”
It would be legislatively set up and running with deadlines for submitting recommendations, Hornstein said. His bill, which creates a new 0.75% sales tax in the Met Council’s transportation area, says the council can’t spend any of the proceeds on SWLRT until after the task force completes its work.
“I think this is the year because of a combination of factors that we must move towards a significant restructuring and reform of this agency,” he said.
Knowing Dibble’s plan, Hornstein modified his task force’s language to say that the group could decide to go the pact route. But if that is the case, it will have to report to the legislature and the future legislature will have to launch a process similar to what is in Dibble’s proposal.
“They can think of anything but what I wanted to highlight is, what are the real options,” Hornstein said. “Direct election is what I prefer but we don’t have a consensus in the legislature on that.” Some legislators favor a government council composed of already elected city and county officials. Others worry about the expenses of another elected body, and Republicans doubt that the elected body will continue to be controlled by FA members.
dibble Plan You will follow a process that local governments use to create and amend internal rule charters. Eleven members of the commission will be appointed by the chief judge of Ramsey County. They will come from the Seven Provinces region and have experience in regional governance.
The unpaid commissioners review the existing structures and propose a charter which could include the establishment of an elected council and when the charter would be presented to the electorate. If approved, elections will follow. The committee’s work is scheduled to be completed by February 15, 2024.
Hornstein military unit It will have members appointed by the House and Senate, the governor, metro cities, the state’s league of counties and towns, Labor, Move Minnesota, and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.
According to the bill, the task force’s study “should include an analysis of the costs and benefits of direct election of members of the Metropolitan Council; a mix of directly elected and appointed members of the Metropolitan Council; a Council of Governments that will replace the current Metropolitan Council; a redistribution of the responsibilities of the Metropolitan Council to state agencies and local units.” of the Government; the adoption of a Home Rule Charter for the governance of the Metropolitan Council; and any other regional governance approaches that are viable alternatives to the current structure of the Metropolitan Council.”
She will have until February 1, 2024, to finish her report.