St. Michael Council Members Meet with Local Legislators in St. Paul
The City of St. Michael laid out its legislative positions, including a plea to find a financial solution behind the proposed Voter ID Amendment.
The City of St. Michael sent council members Nadine Schoen and Chris Schumm to St. Paul recently to meet with the community’s local legislators, including Rep. Joe McDonald and Sen. Amy Koch.
Assistant City Administrator Steve Bot, who will become the city’s lead man when Administrator Bob Derus retires in June, accompanied the two.
Schumm and Schoen returned to the Capitol, recently, for a day of meetings courtesy of the League of Minnesota Cities.
While in St. Paul, the two discussed the city’s stance on a variety of proposed legislation, asking for the state to heed more communities’ calls on issues that have local impact.
Near the top of the list was the so-called Voter ID Amendment, which will ask voters to approve a new police asking the electorate to have photographic identification present when casting their ballot as soon as the 2013 election.
“It’s not that we’re against Photo ID,” explained Bot. “We understand that there is some benefit to that and it has some public support. But when you make a change like this to an election, including taking away same-day registration, you’re going to require changes at local polls. Most of those changes are going to make it more expensive to conduct an election.”
Bot and the city called the Voter ID measure an “unfunded mandate” that would, specifically, require at least two additional elections judges per precinct, according to estimates given to Bot by City Clerk Diana Berning, who conducts those elections.
There would also be additional election office days needed to handle absentee voting (which would also change) and new registrations.
The city does support the 2011 Legislature’s changes to Homestead Market Value exclusion, something that changed the way taxes are levied on property owners. Bot, Schumm and Schoen told Koch any changes proposed to bring HMV back into the equation should be rejected.
Koch feels the same way, and has voted against any changes to the 2011 law thus far this session.
The city put its proverbial foot down on a top issue, and that was any proposal of levy limits. The House GOP has put forth HF 1911, which would limit cities to a 1.9 percent limit in increases. “Levy limits undermine the local budgeting process, planned growth and the relationship between locally elected officials and their residents,” Bot said in his statement, shared with Patch. “The draft of this bill proposes to take away the right of cities to take on any additional debt without a referendum, which could have catastrophic consequences to city infrastructure, no to mention the elimination of local construction jobs created by such projects.”
The bill has been buried in the tax and finance committee since early February, and doesn’t appear to be moving.
The Legislature is hoping to have the 2012 session completed some time in April.