Brooklyn Park City Council hears thoughts on legislative session from North Metro Mayors, Metro Cities

The North Metro Mayors Association and Association of Metropolitan Municipalities, who advocate for certain cities and their interests at the Capitol, gave the Brooklyn Park City Council a report on the 2017 legislative session and how it could impact the city.
Broadly, Patricia Nauman of the Association of Metropolitan Municipalities said that the session was simultaneously contentious and productive.
The state tax bill that passed this session included a permanent $15 million increase in local government aid.
“It was not something we can take for granted,” Nauman said. “There was not really a lot of discussion—or even, I would argue, support—for local government aid increases along the way when both houses were considering their tax bills. There were some one-time appropriations that were proposed, the House did not propose any increase, and in the end there was a $15 million increase that passed.”
A $990 million bonding bill, as well as a $300 million transportation bill, were passed this session, Nauman said.
Bills related to local control and decision-making were proposed with some regularity during the 2017 session, Nauman said.
“It sort of felt like we were fielding those pretty much on a daily basis,” she said.
While many of these bills were not signed into law, a provision related to small cellular wireless facilities and public right-of-way, which was included in the final omnibus jobs bill, did pass and was signed into law.
The provision requires cities to allow wireless providers to place small cellular wireless equipment on city-owned infrastructure in the public right-of-way.
“The proponents of that bill were essentially seeking what we would call unfettered access to public right-of-way,” Nauman said.
While Metro Cities originally did not anticipate this provision to be introduced until the 2018 session, it was introduced in the jobs bill this year, Nauman said. The League of Minnesota Cities began negotiations with legislators, cities and wireless providers, eventually getting to a point where it took a neutral stance on the provision, which it originally opposed. Metro Cities continued to oppose this provision, however.
In response to the introduction of this provision in the bill, the Brooklyn Park City Council approved a resolution March 27 that stated its support for local control over public right-of-way and expressed opposition to any legislation that allowed utilities unregulated access to public right-of-way.
As a result of the bills passing, cities will face caps on charges to wireless providers using public right-of-way for their small cellular equipment. Cities are also unable to issue a moratorium on small cellular equipment in the public right-of-way, among other new regulations.
The fiscal disparities funding pool was not impacted by any legislation this session, Nauman said.
The North Metro Mayors Association helped facilitate conversations between Brooklyn Park and legislators who can help get funding allocated for the city’s projects, such as House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park) or Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), according to Troy Olsen, government relations consultant with the association.
The association will be advocating heavily for funding for the Highway 169 and 101st Avenue interchange project in the upcoming session, Olsen said. Funding would likely come from a bonding bill, which the association would also like to see passed next year.