Other Rural News

New Limits Set on Referendum and Special Elections

By April 12, 2015 No Comments

A bill passed that would force districts to hold all spending referendums on Election Day. HF922, sponsored by Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), would specifically target the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as the only date a local unit of government could hold certain types of special elections or referendum elections that ask voters for spending increases.

School districts seeking to levy for a capital project or hold a special election on a ballot question and cities seeking to acquire property for public utilities would be held to the requirement. An exception would be made for referendums that seek to levy property taxes for emergency or disaster relief.

The House Education Finance Committee approved the bill Thursday and referred it to the House Taxes Committee. Its companion, SF1711, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), awaits action by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

Tying certain special elections to one common date would accomplish the dual-purpose of increasing voter turnout and bringing more predictability to voters in terms of knowing when such elections would be held, Drazkowski said.

Several school districts, administrators, and education lobbyists testified in opposition saying such a change would take away the flexibility that school districts currently have to time special elections in line with capital project needs that are dependent on seasonal construction.