2016 Citizen Petitions to Amend the City Charter

In 2016, two citizen petitions were submitted proposing amendments to the Minneapolis City Charter. The first related to a mandate for police officers to carry professional liability insurance and the second related to establishing a municipal minimum wage. Both petitions were certified sufficient with statutory signature requirements and transmitted to the City Council for its consideration.

At its July 22 meeting, the City Council directed the City Attorney to prepare legal opinions as to whether the petitions presented proper subjects for amendments to the city charter under applicable law and to draft proposed ballot language for each petition. The legal opinions and draft ballot language were posted to the City’s website on July 28.

On August 3, the Committee of the Whole considered the legal opinions of the City Attorney and concurred in the legal findings that the subjects of both petitions were not proper charter amendments. Based on those actions, the City Council adopted resolutions declaring the subjects of both petitions to be improper subjects for charter amendments and directed the City Clerk to not submit the petitions as ballot questions to the electorate as part of the 2016 General Election. As a precautionary step, however, the City Council also approved ballot language for both petitions in the event legal action compelled the petitions to be submitted to the electorate. With respect to the issue of a municipal minimum wage, the City Council further directed staff to develop proposals for the Committee of the Whole and present recommendations in early 2017 to increase the minimum wage by ordinance. This directive was an extension of action taken in April 2015 when the City Council adopted a resolution committing the City to study the effects of establishing a minimum wage, both locally and regionally. The results of that study are expected in October.

Following the Council’s actions, representatives of both petition groups filed suit in Hennepin County District Court contesting the City’s action to deny submission of the petitions as ballot questions. With regard to the petition related to mandated liability insurance for police officers, the district court upheld the City’s decision; however, on the question of a minimum wage set in the city charter, the district court found in favor of the petitioners and ordered the question to be submitted to the electorate. Details of those court actions are linked below for reference.

Subsequently, the decisions of the district court were appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court; see case number A16-1379 captioned David Bicking, et al. v. City of Minneapolis, et al. (liability insurance) and case number A16-1367 captioned Tyler Vasseur, et al. v. City of Minneapolis, et al. (minimum wage). In the matter of mandated liability insurance, the Supreme Court again upheld the City’s decision not to submit the matter to the electorate because of its conflict with and preemption by state law. In the matter of a municipal minimum wage, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower court, concurring with the City’s position that the subject was improper as an amendment to the city charter and that the subject of a municipal minimum wage was more appropriately addressed by the City Council in the form of an ordinance, and that the proposed charter amendment constituted an illegal initiative.

Committee for Professional Policing: Mandating Professional Liability Insurance for Minneapolis Police Officers

The Committee for Professional Policing submitted its original petition on June 13, after being returned to the petitioners to seek additional necessary signators, the petition was certified by the City Clerk as having the requisite number of registered voter signatures on July 11, and was transmitted to the full City Council for its further action and consideration.

Vote 15Now MN Committee: Establishing a $15/hour minimum wage in Minneapolis

The Vote 15 Now MN Committee submitted its original petition on July 13. That petition was certified by the City Clerk as having the requisite number of registered voter signatures on July 20, 2016, and was transmitted to the full City Council for its further action and consideration.

Last updated Jan 31, 2017

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