Apply to host the 2018 CGMC Summer Conference

The CGMC is currently accepting proposals from cities interested in hosting the 2018 CGMC Summer Conference. Since this year’s conference will be in Fergus Falls, we are seeking a southern or south-central Minnesota city (or group of cities) to host in 2018. This RFP outlines the details involved in being the host city, as well as the proposed conference dates and how to apply. For additional information, please view this sample conference agenda. Proposals are due May 15.

If you have any questions about hosting the summer conference, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com.

No LGA increase in House tax bill

The House Tax Committee introduced its omnibus tax bill on Wednesday. Despite including roughly $1.35 billion in tax cuts, the bill (HF 4, authored by Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston), does not include any increase to Local Government Aid (LGA).

CGMC lobbyist Bradley Peterson testified in front of both the House Property Tax Division and the full House Tax Committee this week. He expressed the CGMC’s disappointment in the proposal, and spoke to the vital role that LGA plays in helping cities provide basic services while holding down property taxes.

The House’s failure to propose an LGA increase comes on the heels of the recent announcement that the state’s budget surplus has risen to $1.65 billion. Nonetheless, despite a flourishing economy and overflowing state coffers, legislators have thus far chosen to prioritize other tax cuts rather than restore LGA to its 2002 funding level.

The Senate’s version of the omnibus tax bill has not yet been released. If you have not contacted your senators about the importance of an LGA increase, please do so immediately. Each of these bills has a long way to go before it reaches the Governor’s desk, and the CGMC will continue to advocate for a substantial increase in LGA funding.

ACTION ALERT – Urge your legislators to support an LGA increase!

As the pace picks up at the Legislature, senators and representatives continue to consider the CGMC’s proposal for a $45.5 million increase in LGA over the next two years. The Legislature failed to pass a tax bill last session, and LGA funding stayed stagnant as a result. It’s time to urge your legislators to finish their work this session by passing a tax bill that includes fully restoring LGA to its 2002 funding level.

Take action now!
As a Greater Minnesota city leader, it is imperative that you contact your own legislators, as well as the chairs of the Senate and House Tax Committees. Let them know that:

  • You and other members of your community expect them to pass a tax bill this session that includes a $45.5 million increase in LGA.
  • LGA plays a vital role in helping cities provide essential services and hold down property taxes.
  • A $45.5 million increase would bring LGA back up to its 2002 level—and this doesn’t even account for inflation.

Contact info

Questions?
If you have any questions about LGA or the legislative session, please contact Bradley Peterson at bmpeterson@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1911.

House Property Tax Committee hears LGA bills

HF 672, the CGMC-backed bill to finally return the LGA appropriation to its 2002-funding level, was heard in the House Property Tax Division on Monday.

The bill’s author, Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck), spoke out strongly for the need for LGA in Greater Minnesota communities. Glencoe Mayor Randy Wilson testified in support of the bill, noting that LGA helps restrain property taxes and fund much-needed city services. After the hearing, the bill was “laid over” for possible inclusion in the eventual House tax bill.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) also brought forward anti-LGA bills which would make arbitrary cuts to LGA based on policy issues not related to city finances or tax base. Specifically, Rep. Drazkowski introduced bills to cut LGA to “sanctuary cities” and to cities that pass ordinances instituting particular workplace regulations. Rep. Drazkowski also pushed for a bill that would deduct a city’s LGA by the amount it pays in lobbying expenses. CGMC lobbyist Bradley Peterson testified against the bill, noting that it unfairly punishes smaller cities and Greater Minnesota cities. He noted that Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz and Fairmont Councilmember Jim Zarling were planning to testify at the hearing but were unable to attend due to a snowstorm, which highlights why lobbying organizations like the CGMC are needed to be the eyes and ears at the Capitol. For a video of some of the hearing’s discussion, click here.

ACTION ALERT – Urge legislators to oppose harmful annexation bill

Contact members of the Senate Local Government Committee and urge them to oppose SF 1749!

SF 1749 prohibits a city from pursuing an annexation if the potential annexation area is covered by an orderly annexation agreement with another city

On paper this may sound reasonable, but what happens in practice is that a township will often put two cities against each other to get the best deal for the township, rather than what is best for the region’s development.

Take action now!

SF 1749 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, March 9). Please contact members of the Senate Local Government Committee as soon as possible and urge them to oppose SF 1749.

Let them know that SF 1749 is harmful because:

  • It stifles economic development, particularly in Greater Minnesota.
  • It will prevent cities from having a say in how they develop, and instead gives townships disproportionate leverage in negotiating orderly annexation agreements.
  • It would be a stunning restriction of property owner rights:
    • A landowner could be denied the right to connect with city services when building a home.
    • A business owner could be denied the right to build or expand a business.
    • A city may not be able to include property purchased for public purposes—such as for wastewater treatment, water supply or an industrial park—in its own boundaries.

Contact info

  • To send an email to all the members of the Senate Local Government Committee at once, click here.
  • If you prefer to call or send an email to each committee member separately, their contact info can be found here.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact CGMC annexation lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel at eawefel@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1924.

ACTION ALERT – Bill to fund city streets needs hearing!

Contact Transportation Committee chairs and urge them to hold hearings on SF 1358/HF 1550 – a bill to fund city streets

As cities continue to fall behind on the maintenance and repairs of their streets, it is crucial that any transportation bill the Legislature passes in 2017 includes funding for city streets!

The CGMC has worked with Sen. Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids) and Rep. Jeff Backer (R-Browns Valley) to introduce a bill, SF 1358/HF 1550, that would raise and allocate $50 million a year for city streets. Under the bill, $25 million would go to cities with populations under 5,000 and $25 million would go to cities with populations over 5,000.

However, this important bill has yet to have a hearing in either the House or Senate. With legislative deadlines fast approaching, it is imperative the bill receive hearings in both bodies so that it can proceed this session.

Take action now!

Please contact Senate Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) and House Transportation Committee Chair Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) and urge them to hold a hearing on SF 1358/HF 1550. Here is an example of an email to the committee chairs:

Dear Sen. Newman and Rep. Torkelson,

As a city leader, I urge you to hold a hearing on SF 1358/HF 1550, which uses general fund money to provide reliable street aid of $50 million/year to cities. This funding is critical to help us catch up on our city street repairs and maintenance. It is vital that any transportation bill that the Legislature passes this year includes funding for city streets. Thank you for stepping up for city streets!

In addition, please contact your own legislators and ask them to support the bill and encourage Sen. Newman and Rep. Torkelson to hold a hearing.

Contact info

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact Carolyn Jackson at ccjackson@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1928.

CGMC President: Massive budget surplus means Legislature, Governor have ‘no excuses’ to not pass $45.5M LGA increase

For Immediate Release: Feb. 28, 2017
Contact: Julie Liew, jlliew@flaherty-hood.com

Below is statement from CGMC President and Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson regarding this morning’s announcement that the state’s budget surplus has increased to $1.65 billion.

“With this new budget forecast, the Legislature and Governor have no excuses for not passing a $45.5 million increase in Local Government Aid this year. The state’s economy is clearly flourishing and there is strong bipartisan support for an LGA increase, so it’s a no-brainer that this is the year to make it happen.

“LGA is the single most important state program to help communities hold down property taxes and pay for key city services that affect all of our residents and businesses. The CGMC’s top priority this legislative session is bringing LGA funding back up to its 2002 benchmark. A modest increase of $45.5 million will get us there. With today’s budget announcement there is no reason why our rural legislators can’t use their influence to make this LGA increase happen this session.”

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LGA bills to get first hearing on Tuesday

Tuesday morning will see the first significant discussion of LGA as the Senate Tax Committee takes up a host of bills on the topic. Most significantly, the committee is hearing SF 476, the CGMC-sponsored bill to increase the LGA appropriation by $45.5 million to get back to the 2002 level. We are very grateful to Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne), the bill’s chief author, and the other co-authors for their support. Our members are encouraged to contact the bill authors and co-authors (in both the House and Senate) to thank them for championing LGA this session. The full list of authors, as well as a link that members can use to email them all at once, is available here.

No action is expected to be taken on the bill at the committee meeting. It will be given a hearing and then “laid over” for possible inclusion in the Senate’s tax omnibus bill. The Senate is also hearing a series of bills intended to fix a couple of LGA formula glitches, including CGMC-supported SF 813, authored by Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center).

Legislators introduce bills to fund Corridors of Commerce

The CGMC supports Corridors of Commerce as a financing program for highway expansion projects. It is MnDOT’s policy to dedicate half of Corridors of Commerce funding to Greater Minnesota and half to the metro area.

Last week, the House Transportation Committee took a detailed look at MnDOT’s selection process, including a Legislative Auditor report which showed how projects are selected based on maintenance and road conditions. Corridors of Commerce provides a separate source of funds for highway expansion. Otherwise, the project selection process does not favor highway expansion or major re-design projects.

Because of this, many legislators like the Corridors of Commerce program. There are currently three bills calling for funding the program. First, there is the CGMC-supported bill, HF677/SF904, authored by Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca) and Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault). This bill dedicates $300 million in trunk highway bonds to Corridors of Commerce, as well as $50 million a year of general fund dollars in years there is a budget surplus. The second bill, HF231/SF313, authored by Rep. Eric Lucero (R-Dayton) and Sen. Jasinski, would fund Corridors of Commerce at $200 million a year for two years. The third bill, HF460/SF556, authored by Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) and Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls), dedicates the money generated from the tax on rental vehicles to Corridors of Commerce.

A comprehensive transportation funding package may bring more funding for Corridors of Commerce. However, these bills can travel on their own if the Legislature is unable to reach an agreement on a comprehensive transportation bill this session.

Environmental judicial review bill advances in Senate

The CGMC-supported environmental regulatory reform bill, SF 695 (authored by Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson), was heard Monday in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee. The bill addresses concerns that current law that gives too much deference to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) without allowing for valid objections to water quality rules and the MPCA’s practice of relying on unadopted rules. 

CGMC lobbyist Marty Seifert, Flaherty & Hood environmental attorney Daniel Marx and Mankato Public Utilities Director Mary Fralish testified in support of the bill at the hearing. Several environmental groups spoke against the bill, but their comments did not really address the substance of the proposed legislation. Due to the complex nature of this bill, it will need to pass through several committees. The committee voted to pass it along to its next stop, the State Government Finance Committee.

Please be aware that were has been some misleading information distributed about SF 695. If you hear opposition to this bill from your residents, please contact Tim Flaherty at 651-224-8840 or tpflaherty@flaherty-hood.com to receive more information about the bill. We also encourage you to read this informational handout that describes in more detail what the bill does and its purpose.

A second bill CGMC-supported bill, SF 672, was also scheduled to be heard on Monday, but the meeting ran out of time. It will likely be heard next week.