According to the agenda for its regular May 8 meeting, the council is due to vote on two significant ordinances to amend our City Charter. These are items 21 and 22, at page 6 of this agenda.
Item 21 pertains to ordinance 19-16, which will amend the signature requirements applicable to citizen petitions. We believe that the “clarifications” found in this amendment will unnecessarily restrict our citizens’ ability to fulfill petition signature requirements. For example, this amendment will invalidate signatures of registered voters who may not have voted in the previous four years, or who may have moved to another address in St. Paul not reflected in their current voter registration record. The requirement of an exact name match, can invalidate the signature of someone whose name has changed due to marriage or divorce. See, the ordinance online comment.
Item 22 pertains to ordinance 19-18, the council’s “penalty power” ordinance. As we have previously pointed out, this charter amendment would give the council extremely broad powers to enact and enforce penalties for any violation of any ordinance. Thus far, the council has not been able to show any clear or compelling reason for this radical amendment. Given the great potential for abuse, we oppose its enactment.
Charter amendments via a city council ordinance require the unanimous approval of all seven council members. When the council vote was initially scheduled to be taken on April 24, 2019, they were unable to get the approval of all seven members. As a consequence, the vote on these amendments was rescheduled for their upcoming May 8 meeting.
For more information about our efforts to block this “penalty power” ordinance with a citizen petition, see our penalty petition link.