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Trump signs Jason Lewis bill to halt Met Council expansion

Second District Congressman Jason Lewis thwarted the Metropolitan Council’s ambition to expand its reach from St. Cloud to the St. Croix river when President Donald Trump signed his bill to roll back a regulation published on the last day of the Obama administration. Lewis, a member of the House Transportation Committee, was alerted to the opportunity by Kim Crockett, Center of the American Experiment’s vice president and senior policy fellow. Lewis easily found bipartisan support for his bill.

Federal law requires urbanized areas to facilitate federal transportation planning by appointing a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The Metropolitan Council is the MPO for the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The rule would have allowed the Council to expand into neighboring counties.

MPOs are supposed to be composed of local elected officials, but a federal waiver permits Met Council members to be appointed by the governor. Moreover, because the Council has a broad scope of authority over local matters, the potential threat to local control was obvious to anyone familiar with the Council’s special talent for mission creep.

“How long would it take for the Council to take over transit, land-use, wastewater, and housing beyond the current seven-county boundary?” Crockett asked. “The Center’s goal is to reorganize the Council. For that we need a new governor.”