Skip to main content
HomePriorities Overview

Legislative Priorities & What We Stand For ...


MN Small Cities (MAOSC) responds to a variety of legislative and agency policies that impact cities all across the state, and we take the lead when policy proposals are expected to have a more significant effect – either negative or positive – on cities with populations of 5,000 or less. If Minnesota’s small cities have a stake in the outcome of an issue, it is adopted as part of our agenda. 

 

Based on this criteria - as well as feedback and input from our member cities - the MN Small Cities Board of Directors develops annual legislative goals and policies; then gives authority to our Executive Director and lobbyists (both state and federal) to proceed accordingly. MAOSC lobbyists are also given the flexibility needed to react quickly to issues that arise unexpectedly during the legislative session based on the policy guidelines put forth by the Board, in anticipation of issues the legislature might address during the session.

Primary concerns: Our top concerns are to protect the ability of city leaders in all cities to make decisions for their communities and to give them access to needed resources. In the cities they govern, city leaders also call these communities “home” and therefore serve as their community’s closest elected officials. Supporting their authority as elected officials is one of MN Small Cities’ paramount goals. Additionally, we strongly advocate for sufficient resources - from state and federal entities - that will allow our cities to grow in a manner that suits them best. 

Historically, MN Small Cities has focused on the following issues in past years:

Protecting LGA for small cities: LGA payments are the primary resource at the state level, for supporting our local communities. This formula gets altered (on average) every 10 years. MN Small Cities fights for a distribution method that is fair and supportive of cities all across the state, but most specifically those with populations under 5,000 - which are asked to provide many of the same resources without the same revenue streams as larger cities.  Finally we stand against LGA being used to shore up short term budget issues at the state level, as that type of “fix” has detrimental and long term impacts on our cities.

Transportation Funding: Cities with pop. 5,000 are the ONLY local government entities that are ineligible for dedicated Highway User Tax Distribution Fund dollars. This continued oversight only serves to put small cities’ infrastructure improvement needs further behind. While the legislature did create a Small City Streets account years ago, it is funded sporadically at best.  Minnesota’s small cities need and deserve reliable, dedicated funding that communities can count on to make repairs and improvements when needed.

Housing Support: The economic vitality of small cities is threatened when residents lack access to housing in their home communities. MN Small Cities supports state and federal efforts to expand both subsidized and market-rate housing opportunities across the state. Many small cities are able to provide strong employment opportunities but lack the workforce housing necessary to support sustained economic growth. MN Small Cities will continue to advocate for greater housing solutions that fit the needs of our cities.

Health Care: The economies of small communities are put in jeopardy when rising health costs become unaffordable and access to quality care dwindles. Many small cities are host to aging, limited income populations as well as self-employed and small businesses who have been left behind due to policy gridlock surrounding health care financing and regulation. MAOSC supports funding and policy reforms at the state and federal levels that provide flexibility and cost containment while enhancing a solid network of quality care across the entire state. A similar approach should benefit the bottom line for small cities that have experienced unreasonable spikes in health coverage costs in recent years.       

 

Workforce Shortage: As our state approaches full employment, small cities face critical job shortages in several key areas requiring more skilled workers. The aging workforce demographics strongly indicate a worsening situation for years to come. Many small cities are already short-staffed in the areas of administration, water treatment and other infrastructure, transportation, and public safety. Small cities often serve as the “proving grounds” for many skilled city positions, whose workers are soon lost to new opportunities - without compensation for their considerable training efforts. MAOSC urges the undertaking of a cohesive state effort involving vocational training and, an employment clearinghouse and job-retention initiative to address essential job needs and aging workforce concerns in small cities throughout Minnesota. 

Preserving Water Quality: All small cities are of course, committed to preserving water quality within their communities – and beyond their borders. Our environmental responsibilities in the past were properly shared at the local, state and federal levels. However, costs have been increasingly shifted to the community level while at the same time, regulatory burdens from higher governmental levels mount ever-higher. Escalating sewer and water treatment demands and their costs, in particular, have become overwhelming for small cities lacking the fiscal capacity to keep pace. MAOSC not only requests greater state and federal funding commitments for rising facilities costs, but also seeks educational, employment and regulatory strategies that help address the mounting challenges involved in the training and retention of sewer and water treatment operators.  

  

Broadband: Increasing broadband capabilities in small cities across the state is critical for staying on pace with an ever increasing digital economy.  Broadband is critical for businesses, schools and constituents alike as more and more daily activities are taking place online. MN Small Cities continues to support and advocate for additional investments into creating advanced broadband networks throughout greater Minnesota. MAOSC has joined with a coalition of 16 other organizations representing local governments, schools, and economic development groups, urging the Governor's Broadband Task Force to increase funding for the Office of Broadband and the Border-to-Border Broadband Fund.

Please feel free to contact MN Small Cities Executive Director, Cap O'Rourke if you have questions on these or other issues that affect our small cities. If you would like to receive MAOSC’s monthly newsletters, weekly legislative updates during the legislative session, and other timely announcements, please click onto the link below to find out how to become a member of MN Small Cities.