State Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, today offered an amendment to a transit bill, Senate File 2268, requiring the Met Council to operate under new accountability and transparency standards when proposing to use taxpayer money on light rail projects.
Loon’s amendment would:
- Require the Met Council to seek legislative authorization on light rail projects before proceeding to the preliminary engineering phase.
- Require the Met Council to receive municipal consent from all affected cities on light rail projects. If one or more cities do not consent, the Met Council must amend its plan to gain the support of all municipalities or disband the project.
“Unelected, politically-appointed Met Council members currently have the power to act contrary to the wishes of duly elected local officials and the voters they represent. They have the sole authority to commit billions of dollars of state and local funds on expensive and often controversial light rail lines. This needs to change,” said Rep. Loon. “An affirmative vote of elected officials should be required before committing taxpayers to millions or billions of dollars of spending. The Southwest Light Rail project alone will require state funds of no less than $160 million to meet the Met Council’s plan for 10-percent of the project’s cost to come from state sources. Hardworking Minnesota taxpayers deserve a transparent and accountable process, one where elected officials hold the ultimate responsibility for authorizing light rail transit projects in a public vote, before one shovel hits the ground.”
The DFL majority defeated the amendment on a 56-73 vote.