Several suburban legislators today introduced two separate bills reforming the Metropolitan Council that together make up the “Metropolitan Council Accountability Act” of 2015.
SF 71 brings significant reform to the Met Council appointment process by requiring a majority of the city councils in a Met Council district to approve an appointment by the governor before it is allowed to proceed to confirmation by the Senate. The bill is sponsored by two legislators who formally served in city government: Senator David Osmek (R-Mound) and Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia).
“The decisions made at the Met Council primarily affect local government, and now it’s time to give them a stronger voice in the makeup of the council,” said Senator Osmek. “This bill is the essence of local control.”
The legislation would require a majority of city councils in a Met Council district to approve an appointment of the Governor within 90 days in order for it to move to the Senate for confirmation. There is also a provision to remove a member of the council with resolutions from a majority of city councils.
“Having our Met Council representative come before the city council as part of the appointment process would have been very valuable when I was mayor,” added Rep. Nash. “Our local communities know best the type of representation they need on the Met Council.”
The second bill of the “Metropolitan Council Accountability Act” requires the legislature to approve the budget for the Met Council each year. Under current law, the Met Council budget is adopted by the council with no legislative oversight. HF9 is sponsored in the House by Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) and in the Senate by Senator Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes).
“Right now the Met Council has the power to tax and spend without any oversight from the legislature – we think that needs to change,” said Rep. Scott. “They are a huge organization with 4,200 employees and a $900 million annual budget. A legislative check on their budget every year will make them more accountable to the communities they serve.”
Today’s proposals follow the announcement this week of a new Subcommittee on Metropolitan Council Accountability and Transparency appointed by Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt. The new subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines).
“Our goal is to rightfully put local governments back in charge of their local planning,” said Rep. Runbeck. “Over 50 years of mission creep, the Met Council has been taking on more and more responsibilities that should be handled by local elected officials who are accountable to the citizens they represent. Citizens have no recourse when an unelected body like the Met Council is imposing its will. This has become a more powerful agency, sidestepping government officials.”