The Greater Minnesota Advocate: Your source for rural perspectives

What is CGMC?

For more than 30 years, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) has united rural cities with one voice at the Capitol. We bring city officials and legislators together to discuss the issues confronting greater Minnesota and to craft solutions that advance the goals we share for our residents. Our advocacy work is focused on the areas of property tax relief and local government aid (LGA), economic development, the environment, energy, land use and transportation. We also monitor labor and employee relations issues and provide advice and representation to cities for their personnel and labor matters.

What is the Greater Minnesota Advocate?

The Greater Minnesota Advocate is a weekly informational resource for legislators on the issues mentioned above. We know that it is difficult for legislators to balance their committee work while remaining up to date on the issues that will affect your community. The Advocate will keep you informed on policy discussions related to these issues and will also explore potential impacts of various proposals.

Who can I contact for more information?

CGMC retains the law firm of Flaherty & Hood, P.A. for its representation at the Capitol. Individual lobbyists with the firm are listed below according to their advocacy area and are happy to take your questions or suggestions at any time.

Save the date: CGMC Legislative Action Day

You’re invited! Please join city officials from all corners of the state for CGMC’s annual Legislative Action Day, which will be held Wednesday, February 9. Each year, mayors, city council members and city staff meet in St. Paul to discuss important policy issues for the session and visit with their local legislators at the Capitol. At night, you are invited to join our members in a more casual setting at Mancini’s Char House for dinner and mingling. Mark the date on your calendar, and keep your eyes open for a formal invitation to be delivered to your office.

CGMC supports clarification of city variance authority

In response to a Minnesota Supreme Court decision this summer, the League of Minnesota Cities gathered several stakeholders in an effort to revamp and clarify municipal variance authority. The Supreme Court decision explicitly rejected a long-standing interpretation of statute that cities have relied on when addressing local requests for variances from zoning and land use controls.

The Supreme Court ruling in Krummenacher v. City of Minnetonka has had a significant chilling effect on cities as they try to respond to local land use challenges.

CGMC supports the LMC’s efforts to correct the effects of this case and to clarify cities’ variance authority. It is expected that legislation will be introduced this week and that hearings will also be held as soon as this week. If you have any questions, please contact Bradley Peterson at bmpeterson@flaherty-hood.com.

Water sustainability plan unveiled, receives cool reception in House

Last Wednesday, CGMC lobbyists attended the House Environment Committee meeting where Dr. Deb Swackhamer from the University of Minnesota’s Water Resource Center unveiled the final version of the 25-year water sustainability plan for Minnesota. In short, the legislature appropriated money to the University of Minnesota’s Water Resource Center to create a road map for the sustainable management of water in the state for 25 years with guidance on policy and funding.

Due to time constraints, the committee did not have much time to discuss the plan. At least one member, Rep. Torkelson (R-Nelson Township), a farmer, expressed concern that Twin Cities residents use more water than the rest of the state while paying less for it than what it costs to produce; the plan does not appear to present strategies on addressing this issue.

The plan and supporting documents are available on the Water Resource Center website at http://wrc.umn.edu. CGMC staff will be reviewing the plan and providing more information to our members on potential impacts to CGMC cities. The Water Resource Center will be accepting comments through January 31 and will forward them to the legislature. If you have any questions regarding the framework, please contact Elizabeth Wefel at eawefel@flaherty-hood.com.