State routinely trumps city charters

There's nothing new about the proposal to circumvent the Minneapolis City Charter to build a new Vikings Stadium. In fact, the state Legislature routinely overrides local governments and their charters.

"[The Minneapolis City Charter] has been waived, in the last 20 years, umpteen times," said stadium bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, on MPR's Morning Edition.

The Charter requires a citywide referendum before Minneapolis can spend more than $10 million to finance a professional sports facility. The stadium bill introduced Monday simply says the charter doesn't apply.

The 2006 law that created Target Field for the Minnesota Twins contained similar language, even though the public money in that project came from Hennepin County, not the city of Minneapolis.

"We definitely didn't want lawsuits that would slow down completion," said former state Sen. Steve Kelley, who sponsored the ballpark bill.

There have been at least 22 state laws passed since 1982 that overrode some section of the Minneapolis city charter, according to John Stiles, a spokesman for Mayor R.T. Rybak.

"According to the Minneapolis Charter, we still have a Minneapolis Library Board," Charter Commission Chair Barry Clegg said.

But a state law dissolved the board and merged the Minneapolis and Hennepin County Library systems in 2008.

Under the Minnesota constitution, cities are subordinate to the state. Any powers they have — including the power to have a charter in the first place — are granted by the Legislature.

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