15-Minute Advocate: Bill Would Threaten Future Joint Powers Agreements

It is important to tell your legislators about your concerns as soon as possible as this bill is moving rapidly through the legislative process.
(Published Mar 31, 2014)

1. Get Informed.
HF 2939/SF 2490 (Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township/Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm) would change how cities engage in joint powers agreements. As currently drafted, the bill would create serious disincentives to intergovernmental cooperation. The bill would negatively impact future joint powers agreements between cities and other government entities.

The League of Minnesota Cities, Association of Minnesota Counties, Minnesota School Boards Association, and Minnesota Inter-County Association are working jointly to share their concerns about HF 2939/SF 2490 with legislative leaders.

2. Take Action.
City officials are strongly encouraged to contact their senators and representatives as soon as possible to share concerns with HF 2939/SF 2490. The bills have been sent to the House and Senate floors, and final action could occur this week.

It is important that legislators are aware of the negative impact this bill could have on cities and the services they provide to citizens. Share how your city currently uses joint powers agreements and how this bill could impact future joint powers agreements. The following talking points can be used when communicating with legislators:

Background

  • In recent years, in response to direction from state leaders, local governments have increased their use of joint powers arrangements to save taxpayer dollars and gain efficiencies.
  • Those efforts have helped local governments cope with reduced state funding and the difficulty in finding staff to fill certain technical and professional positions.
  • Cities want to continue to explore opportunities to gain efficiencies and guarantee that smaller units of government remain able to provide critical services to their citizens.
  • Sometimes those efforts affect the terms and conditions of employment or result in the elimination of positions in one or more of the participating governmental units.

Concerns

  • The bills contain onerous collective bargaining provisions that would make it legally and practically difficult to implement various joint powers arrangements.
  • The bill does not recognize the legal and functional distinction between an agreement that creates a separate joint powers “entity” and one where one local unit of government is contracting for service with another.
  • The bills would add costly administrative burdens of having to manage multiple collective bargaining agreements that could undo or reduce any efficiencies or cost savings that local governments hoped to achieve by forming a collaborative entity.
  • The continuing contract provisions will make it more difficult for an employer and employee groups to reach agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. In a situation where employees of the new entity are guaranteed different terms of employment, it may become difficult to reach agreement on a contract that doesn’t meet or exceed the terms of what is considered the most generous existing one, especially if that contract isn’t set to expire for several years.

Find out who your legislators are and how to contact them

3. Stay Involved.
Stay tuned to League resources for more information:

  • Subscribe to the League’s Capitol Updates email alerts for the latest information on this and other legislative issues.
  • Follow @AnneMFinn and @AnnRL on Twitter for updates on this bill as it moves through the legislative process.
  • Follow #lmcleg on Twitter to stay in touch with the latest legislative action on this issue.
  • Contact the League with questions or feedback that you may get from your legislators.

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