Here’s what Minneapolis wants from the Minnesota Legislature in 2023

Here’s what Minneapolis wants from the Minnesota Legislature in 2023

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  • December 25, 2022
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The state of Minnesota has a mountain of money, and the city of Minneapolis wants a molehill of it.

And unlike previous years, city officials are entering 2023 with mounds of optimism, not only for state funds, but also for changes in policy and laws to further the city’s goals —because Democrats are in full control at the Capitol for the first time since 2014.

“This includes increasing state funds for affordable housing, supporting ongoing and inclusive economic recovery efforts, helping to ensure financial stability of local governments and supporting community safety funding and innovation,” said Katie Topinka, government relations director for Minneapolis.

Topinka and other city lobbyists are armed with their annual legislative agenda, approved by the City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey and prepared to begin buttonholing lawmakers.

When lawmakers convene Jan. 3 in St. Paul, they’ll be sitting atop a budget surplus forecast to reach $17.6 billion. The primary stewards of that money — the state House and Senate — include a number of Minneapolitans in key positions.

Minneapolis lawmakers in power

The Senate’s most powerful position will be held by incoming Majority Leader Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis Sen. Bobbie Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, has been named Senate president. Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, will chair the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.

In the House, Democrats selected Rep. Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis, as majority leader. Rep. Mohamud Noor, DFL-Minneapolis, will continue to chair the Human Services Finance Committee, while Rep. Aisha Gomez, DFL-Minneapolis, will keep the gavel for the Taxes Committee.

Minneapolis is hardly alone in having a wish list.

Government agencies and interest groups across the state — especially those who claim a sympathetic ear among Democrats — are lining up at the trough of the state’s historic largesse.

Here are some of the top asks by Minneapolis.

Public safety

As Minneapolis continues to reckon with how it approaches policing amid a stretch of increased crime, priorities include:

  • More cops: The city’s recently approved budget funds hiring some 260 new police officers, as well as civilian members of the Police Department. But, like many police departments, Minneapolis has had trouble recruiting new cops and retaining those on the force. Minneapolis is looking for state funding to help.
  • Non-cops: City Hall is hoping for state money to help with plans to expand alternatives to policing, including mental health response teams.
  • Systemic justice: Minneapolis is pushing for a host of changes to state law to reduce the burdens on low-income people for nonviolent infractions, such as fees and fines that can escalate to suspensions of driver’s licenses.

Rebuilding from the riots

The city is hoping state dollars will flow into a series of funds and initiatives aimed at rebuilding and empowering neighborhoods and business districts still bearing the scars of arson and vandalism in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder.

Many of the programs target the hardest-hit areas along East Lake Street and West Broadway and range from grants to rebuild to programs aimed at helping merchants own the buildings where their businesses are located.

Housing and homelessness

The city and Hennepin County have parallel priorities to reduce homelessness, increase affordable housing and help renters. Among the city’s goals:

  • Money for operating expenses and physical improvements to existing shelters. Federal aid during the pandemic helped stand up and expand facilities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but that money is running out.
  • Onetime state funds to expand affordable housing, both for improvements to public housing and to develop new low-cost housing units.
  • Increased renter protections, such as making a two-week pre-eviction notice mandatory statewide.

Construction projects

If there’s a sizeable state public works and infrastructure package, known as a bonding bill, Minneapolis wants several projects funded. They include:

  • $9.9 million for the ongoing Central City Tunnel project, a $58.3 million endeavor to expand storm tunnels that drain into the Mississippi River, some of which date to the 1800s.
  • $9 million for renovations and energy-efficiency upgrades to the Minneapolis Convention Center
  • $10 million for continued work to make city public spaces ADA-compliant, such as by cutting curbs to ensure crosswalks can be used by people in wheelchairs.
  • $17 million for the design and and repair of the Nicollet Avenue South bridge over Minnehaha Parkway and Minnehaha Creek.

But if history is any guide, it’s likely that lawmakers won’t make many of their final decisions on these and other issues until right before the Legislature adjourns in May.

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