Met Council restructure proposal

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A bill was heard in the Senate Local Government Committee to completely revamp the organizational structure of the Metropolitan Council. Instead of being comprised of gubernatorial appointments, the Met Council would be made up of one county commissioner from each of the metropolitan counties, one locally elected official appointed by a municipal committee of each of the 16 Met Council districts, two elected officials appointed by the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the commissioner of transportation or a designee, and three members appointed by the commissioner to represent non-motorized transportation, freight transportation, and public transit. The Met Council would select a chair from one of its 29 members.

The Governor currently appoints all 17 members of the Met Council from each of the metropolitan districts. Critics of the Met Council argue that unelected Met Council members should not have the ability to raise revenue for regional transportation projects. They believe the Met Council should be comprised of locally elected officials since the Council has the ability to levy metropolitan sales taxes.

Opponents of this legislation contend appointees are already accountable through the Governor and must have a regional, rather than parochial, outlook regarding metropolitan planning. Metro Cities testified in opposition to allowing city officials on the council due to conflicts of interest and the part-time nature of many city councils. They have previously testified that if elected officials are members of the Met Council, they would be acting in incompatible positions as the regulator and as the regulated. A similar bill narrowly passed the Senate last year on a party line vote but was not sent to Governor Dayton. (S.F. 2809)