On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council is expected to make a final vote to reject a pair of charter amendments. Minutes later, the groups that gathered thousands of petition signatures to put the amendments on the November ballot are expected to file a lawsuit asking a judge to let the voters have their say.
One of the charter amendments would raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15 an hour. The other is aimed at holding police officers accountable for unnecessary violence by requiring them to carry personal liability insurance and pay for any premium increases caused by violent acts against the public.
City Attorney Susan Segal says the minimum wage amendment is not appropriate material for a city charter amendment and the police insurance amendment conflicts with state laws and a police union contract. The city council is expected to follow her advice and vote to prevent the amendments from going on the ballot when they meet Friday at 9:30am. On Wednesday, the council’s Committee of the Whole voted 10-2 to reject the wage ordinance charter amendment and 9-1 to stop the police insurance plan from going to voters. The vote set off noisy protests by Neighborhoods Organizing For Change supporters in the council chamber. The same people will vote on Friday and the results are expected to be the same.
Video of council meeting, protests and basis for lawsuit
Video above: Protesters yell “shut it down” when minimum wage charter amendment fails
Video at below: Discussion of the police insurance charter amendment
Video at bottom: Discussion of the minimum wage charter amendment.
Committee for Professional Policing (CfPP) organizer Michelle Gross says Segal’s advice to the City Council is wrong. Gross says Minnesota’s law that governs city charters requires the city council to put the amendment on the ballot. She says the council’s job is “ministerial” and is limited to making sure the amendment is properly worded.
“State law makes it clear that the City Council must place a charter amendment on the ballot once it has enough signatures,” stated Dave Bicking, CfPP Campaign Chair in a press release announcing the group’s intent to sue. “The city establishment has silenced over 15,000 people who signed our petition by falsely (stating) the Police Insurance Amendment is illegal. We will easily prevail in court.”
State law makes no mention of a city council’s power to block a charter amendment backed by a petition drive. However, court rulings say the city council can refuse to put an amendment on the ballot if it is unconstitutional.
Gross says the proposed charter amendment is not unconstitutional.
The deadline to add a charter amendment to the general election ballot is August 26.