Charter Commission Minutes

April 28, 2009

The Hopkins Charter Commission met on April 28.  Present were Commission members Dorothy Boen, David Day, Roger Gross, Fran Hesch, Karen Jensen, Steve Lewis, and Emily Wallace-Jackson.

The meeting was brought to order at 6:37 p.m. by the Chair of the Commission, Emily Wallace-Jackson.

Approval of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

Commissioner Jensen moved and Commissioner Day seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the April 29, 2008 meeting.  The motion was approved unanimously.

Old Business

Instant Runoff Elections

Mr. Genellie provided an update on IRV in Minnesota. Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota continue to move forward on Instant Runoff Voting. The Minneapolis City Council has adopted an ordinance that specifies the manner in which Instant Runoff Voting or Ranked Choice Voting will take place.

IRV in Minneapolis survived an initial court case in January. The plaintiff, Minnesota Voters Alliance, has appealed this decision. It is possible that the Minnesota Supreme Court could decide this case in time for the 2009 municipal election in Minneapolis. However, if the case is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, IRV may have to be postponed in Minneapolis.

The City of Minneapolis is moving along a dual track - planning for an RBV election and a regular election. A final decision would be made in June.

Meanwhile, there are bills in front of the Minnesota Legislature to allow cities to use Instant Runoff Voting. It is not known at this time whether these bills will pass or, if they do pass, whether they will also face legal challenges. The current bills before the legislature are silent on the topic of multiple candidates running for multiple offices. The bills do allow home rule charter cities to set up their own methods.

There could be problems with Hopkins using its own method for dealing with multiple candidates running for multiple offices. Any automated system that Minneapolis may eventually create or purchase may not be able to be used in Hopkins. This could require Hopkins to purchase its own software or to hand count ballots. Additionally there could be an independent legal challenge to the Hopkins method. 

Commissioner Hesch reviewed the work of the Ranked Choice Voting Issues Group, Technical Advisory Committee’s work and hearings that were held regarding RCV.  Commissioner Hesch related the difficulty of convincing the Committee to allow Cities with multiple seat elections to choose other Ranked Choice methods for their ballots.

The consensus of the Charter Commission was to not take any additional action on a charter amendment until the Minneapolis situation was resolved.

The Commission, however, was concerned that any state legislation regarding IRV preserve the ability of home rule charter cities to use their own method of IRV and not be required to use the single transferable vote system for elections where there are multiple candidates running for multiple seats, such as the Hopkins Council.

Commissioner Hesch moved and Commissioner Jensen seconded a motion to authorize a Commission member or members to meet with Representative Simon in order to ensure that any state legislation regarding IRV include a provision allowing home rule charter cities to choose their own method of electing multiple candidates for multiple seats. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Hesch said that she would try to set up a meeting with Representative Simon.

New Business

Mr. Genellie reported that the Minnesota Legislature amended the law regarding the number of members a Charter Commission may have, setting the number between 7 and 15. He said that the City had received documents from the office of the Chief Judge indicating that Hopkins should have 15 members. Historically, the City of Hopkins' Charter Commission has had eleven members. The Commission's By-laws state that there shall be eleven members. Mr. Genellie recommended that the Charter be amended to fix the size of the charter commission at eleven members.

Commissioner Hesch moved and Commissioner Gross seconded a motion to amend the City Charter to set the number of Commissioners at 11. The motion passed unanimously.

Due to the fact that a Charter amendment is being proposed, another Commission meeting will be needed to approve a resolution and draft ordinance amending the Charter. After some discussion, the Commission chose Tuesday, June 30 at 6:30 p.m. for its next meeting.

Commissioner Jensen moved and Commissioner Day seconded a motion to adjourn.  The meeting adjourned by unanimous consent at 7:20 p.m.