Big changes would be coming to the powerful Metropolitan Council under the omnibus transportation and regional governance policy bill.
The bill incorporates multiple pieces of legislation previously heard by the committee that would change the size and makeup of the regional planning body, alter how the agency’s finances are monitored by the state, and change the way it can pay for capital maintenance costs.
Approved Wednesday by the House Transportation and Regional Governance Policy Committee, HF3369 sponsored by Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines), would enlarge the council board from 17 to 29 members — most of whom would be local elected officials appointed by local committees in lieu of the current gubernatorial appointees.
The bill would also make a number of transportation policy changes, including a measure that proposes to prohibit the Department of Public Safety from suspending a person’s driver’s license based solely on unpaid traffic tickets, parking fines, or surcharges.
Metropolitan Council provisions
The bill continues a revived legislative Republican effort to affect big changes to the Metropolitan Council, the regional, unelected body responsible for land use, transit, and wastewater planning for the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.
HF3369 includes Rep. Tony Albright’s (R-Prior Lake) proposal that would completely remake the council’s membership by having municipal committees in each council district appoint a local elected official from that district to the board. They would be joined by officials appointed by the seven metro counties and the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Those members would serve staggered four-year terms. Currently, Metropolitan Council members serve concurrent four-year terms coterminously with the governor that appointed them.
Supporters of overhauling the council say it has overreached its originally-intended responsibilities and has become unaccountable to the many communities it represents. The plan’s detractors say, among other complaints, that it presents a conflict of interest to have officials who were elected locally voting on region-wide issues.
Some other Met Council-related provisions proposed in the bill would:
Other transportation policy provisions included in the bill would: