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Advocacy Update 8-16-2021 Tags: Government Affairs

Mayor Frey had previously vetoed the ‘Citizen-Led Rent Control’ ballot question. The Minneapolis City Council met today to attempt to override that veto. The override required two-thirds vote of the city council or (9) total votes in the affirmative. The final vote was 7 Yay, 5 Nay, and 1 Abstention. Therefore, the threshold was not met, and the veto was not overridden. ‘Citizen-led Rent Control’ will not be on the ballot.

However, ‘Council-Led Rent Control’ ballot question will be on the ballot. The ballot question for 2021 simply asks the voters for authorization and does not proscribe a specific rent control policy. Assuming the voters approve in 2021 the council would need to begin work on a rent control policy. If a rent control policy is drafted and passed the council and mayor’s office, it is the opinion of the Minneapolis City Attorney that policy with Rent Control specifics would need to be re-submitted to the voters as a future ballot question. The reasoning for this is two-fold Minnesota state law preemption and Minneapolis does not have an initiative process in the charter. This advice from Minneapolis City Attorney is not universally held among current council members, especially those in-favor of rent control. Among this group, there is some thinking a second ballot question at future date is unnecessary and they would prefer to forgo such an option and settle the issue in the evitable court challenge.

In St. Paul, the situation is quite different. St. Paul does have initiative and referendum. St. Paul received the requisite number of signatures 9,000+ and will have Rent Control on the ballot in 2021. The proposal would cap rents at 3% with almost no exclusions. One exclusion would allow a housing provider to request a ‘reasonable rate of return’ from the council itself on a case-by-case basis. The policy in St. Paul, as proposed, would be the most restrictive policy in the U.S. with the lowest cap and no exclusions or pass-throughs.

Minneapolis will have (3) ballot questions being Government Structure, Public Safety, and Rent Stabilization (council-led, authorization only).  Details including ballot question language can be found here.