New hunters’ rights group targets DNR wolf management
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has never enjoyed a high approval rating with many sportsmen and women. But the agency’s hands-off policy on the burgeoning gray wolf population in…
Ah, the good old days of the pandemic, when Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency authority waived the public meeting laws, empowering state and local governments to hold official meetings online without direct contact with their constituents. As the League of Minnesota Cities points out, many elected officials got used to the convenience of not having to go through the motions of showing up at city hall.
Although the governor’s state of emergency for COVID-19 has ended, some city councils — and their residents — have become so comfortable with the convenience of online meetings that they want to continue them.
The Duluth City Council stands out as one of the most prominent local governments that longs to return to the remote meetings of the Covid-era. The News Tribune reports that city hall has taken its quest to reinstate remote council meetings to the next level.
Local officials are advocating for a change in state law that could make it easier for city boards, commissions and possibly the City Council to meet and conduct business remotely, even in post-pandemic times.
On Monday night, the Duluth City Council voted unanimously in support of a request to change Minnesota’s open meetings law.
Under the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, city council members must attend in person to vote and conduct business. While local governments could technically meet remotely, as the LMC website points out, the rules for doing so effectively make it a non-starter.
One of the biggest concerns with using interactive technology is that members participating remotely must do so from a location that is open to the public. This means that if a member is taking part in a meeting from their home, the member must provide their address in the public notice and allow the public to attend the meeting from the home.
But without the coronavirus as a foil, the city council had to identify a new threat to justify their campaign to weaken state law limiting remote meetings in the public interest. Make that a list of threats — e.g., the commuting time to city hall — that some might view as self-serving as much as anything else.
At large Councilor Therese Tomanek said there are four reasons she supports the change:
The occasional difficulty of attaining the quorum of board or committee members required to conduct official business
The challenges some people with disabilities encounter when trying to access City Hall
Equity issues with people needing to sacrifice not only meeting time but commuting time
And sustainability, as driving to a meeting typically results in additional carbon emissions.
More than enough grounds evidently for the Duluth City Council to unanimously approve supporting legislation in St. Paul to allow cities to return to the convenience of online meetings without the pandemic or masks. But proponents may have to come up with a stronger argument than poor attendance at council meetings or long commute times in order to prevail.
When lawmakers legalized marijuana last session, they also set aside tens of millions of tax dollars to subsidize the marijuana industry. The bill that legalized marijuana, HF 100, instructed the…
But you already knew that. Although he has not yet been charged in the Thanksgiving-eve fatal stabbing at an Edina bus stop, KSTP-5 has named the 32-year-old suspect in the…
Last summer, we went all over the state with our Off the Cliff tour. In it, we reviewed what had happened in the last legislative session in St. Paul. Among…
Evan Ramstad at the Star Tribune wrote a great story highlighting the multitude of entirely foreseeable potholes that electric buses are hitting in towns across Minnesota. The piece is solid…
The legislature appropriates more money, the unions grab it for salaries, the school board cuts middle school band, and everyone blames the legislature for underfunding. Rinse and repeat.