Charter Commission Minutes

June 30, 2009

The Hopkins Charter Commission met on June 30. Present were Commission members Dorothy Boen, David Day, Fran Hesch, Karen Jensen, Steve Lewis, and Emily Wallace-Jackson.

Others present: Representative Steve Simon.

The meeting was brought to order at 6:35 p.m. by the Chair of the Commission, Emily Wallace-Jackson.

Approval of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

Commissioner Day moved and Commissioner Jensen seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the April 28, 2009 meeting. The motion was approved unanimously.

There were no Reports or Communications.

Unfinished Business

Instant Runoff Elections

The Minnesota Supreme Court on June 11 decided that the Minneapolis Ranked Ballot Voting system was constitutional. Subsequent to that, the Minneapolis City Council decided to proceed with ranked ballot voting for its 2009 municipal election.

The St. Paul City Council voted to put Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) on the November ballot.

The Minnesota Legislature did not take any action on bills to authorize cities to use Instant Runoff Voting. Commissioner Hesch contacted Representative Steve Simon and invited him to the June 30 Commission meeting to give an update on the state legislation.

The Hopkins Charter Commission has been a strong proponent of IRV. The issue the Commission has had is with elections where there are multiple candidates running for multiple offices, such as election for Council Members in Hopkins.

Minneapolis will be using the Single Transferable Voting (STV) method for its Park Board election. The Hopkins Charter Commission has opposed this method because it does not assure that the winning candidates receive a majority of the vote.

Representative Simon said that his bill, HF 2052, essentially mirrors the
Minneapolis method, IRV for single seat elections and STV for multiple seat elections. HF 2052 does contain language that would allow exceptions to the use of STV:

Subd. 4. Alternate counting methods. Notwithstanding subdivision 1, a jurisdiction may use a different ranked-choice counting method for multiple seat elections upon application to and approval of the secretary of state. The secretary of state must adopt rules governing the approval of alternate counting method applications.

The other bill that concerned IRV, HF 742, contained the following exception language:

Subd. 3. Home rule charter cities. Nothing in Minnesota Statutes prohibits a home rule charter city from adopting by ordinance for use in city elections instant runoff voting, cumulative voting, ranked-order voting, or another method of voting with a form of ballot that differs from the form required by section 204B.36, subdivision 2.

However, since HF 742 also mandated the use of IRV in all Federal and State offices, it is unlikely that that bill will make it through the legislature.

Representative Simon said the he had discussions with a representative of FairVote Minnesota and that FairVote would not oppose a bill that offered an alternative to STV for multiple seat elections. He said that he intends to add this provision to any bill offered next session. He said that he would have to discuss this with the Senate sponsor, Ann Rest.

Representative Simon said that there is time to work on this bill between now and February when the 2010 session begins. He also told the Commission that Aspen, Colorado uses a method similar to the one proposed by Hopkins to elect its City Council members.

The Commission thanked Representative Simon for his efforts and said that they would be willing to assist in the effort to fashion a bill for the next session.

Establishing the size of the Charter Commission

At the April meeting the Commission considered a Charter amendment that would establish the number of Commissioners at eleven. Mr. Genellie reminded the Commission 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. Mr. Genellie presented Ordinance 2009-1006 to the Commission which would fix the size of the charter commission at eleven members.

Commissioner Hesch moved and Commissioner Boen seconded a motion to adopt Charter Commission Resolution 2009-01 recommending that the Hopkins City Council adopt Ordinance 2009-1006 to set the number of Commissioners at 11.

The motion passed unanimously.

There being no further business before the Commission, Commissioner Bowen moved and Commissioner Lewis seconded a motion to adjourn. The meeting adjourned by unanimous consent at 7:15 p.m.


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