2018 Session Update Week 8
And we’re back … We are sorry for the delay in our Weekly Updates. We expect to return to weekly updates now that our staff has returned from our Short Courses.
Annexation – We’ve seen two developments in Annexation matters in the last few weeks. First, the Senate Local Government Committee pulled the hearing scheduled for our Orderly Annexation clarification bill, Senate File 1749. The Committee Leadership declined to move forward with the bill based on their concern the House Local Government Committee would not have heard the bill at all. It is not clear if that is the case, but we were looking forward to presenting the case for the bill, offering testimony from Midway Township officers, and passing the bill out of the Committee and to the Senate Floor. We are discussing an informational hearing on the bill and other annexation issues later this session.
Second, the dispute between Midway Township and the City of Proctor took a negative turn this week. The Minnesota Court of Appeals released its decision in the case, deciding the orderly annexation agreement between Midway and Duluth did not prevent Proctor from annexing property subject to the contract. Unless this decision is appealed to the Supreme Court or the legislature fixes the law, these agreements can no longer be relied upon when more than one city borders a township.
Because of these two developments, MAT needs town officers to contact their legislators and advocate for a legislative change, such as that offered in Senate File 1749 and House File 1995. In good news, we hear more legislators express frustration or concern with the status quo in annexation law. The more they hear your stories of annexation, the more they understand the need for reforms.
Broadband – Broadband Day on the Hill 2018 was held on Thursday 4/12/18, with another successful showing of the support for Broadband. That day, the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee heard House File 3527, authored by Rep. Sandy Layman, which would provide funding to the State’s Broadband Grant Program for 2019. During our Spring Short Courses, we heard many members complaint that they know fiber optic cable is in the ground near their homes, but have not been able to access the infrastructure. Others expressed stories of frustration or success with wireless technologies. We need your stories to bring to legislators. Please write them down and send them to us and we can make sure they get into the right hands.
Transportation – There was a hearing on constitutionally dedicating the auto parts sales tax to transportation. This would be in addition to the transportation funds we already receive. The breakdown that the townships would receive is 3.25%. This passed out of the Senate committee at an 8-7 vote. We should be seeing this on the ballot this fall.
Not Net Gain/30 Year Plan – Our success in this issue has been in educating legislators and finding a surprising amount of support on the issue. We have found more support as legislators learn how much public land (non-taxable land) there is in some counties, that the remaining landowners are paying more each year to cover the losses, and that Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) has not resolved the problems. There has been no movement on our No Net Gain or 30 Year Plan bills in the House or Senate this year, but we hare expected to receive an informational hearing in the upcoming weeks.
Elections – There are a few bills MAT staff have been following on elections. The House heard File 4104 this week, which would extend the mail balloting ability to towns in the Twin Cities metro area. MAT supports HF 4104 because of the greater opportunity it offers to metro-area townships that are often the same or similar size as some non-metro towns that can use mail-in balloting. Metro towns have been placed at a disadvantage in this matter merely because of their proximity to Minneapolis and St. Paul. HF 4104 resolves that problem. We have been in close contact with Secretary of State Steve Simon’s office on some new funding opportunities that have given to the state to keep our elections safe from cyber attaches.