Civic beat // Minneapolis has lots of sway in new Legislature

With the DFL taking over the Legislature, Minneapolis will have a larger voice at the Capitol for at least the next two years. 

Most notably, Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-61B) of Southwest was chosen by his colleagues as Speaker of the House. He’ll be in charge of the DFL’s agenda in the House. 

Minneapolis legislators also earned key committee appointments. 

In the House, Reps. Frank Hornstein (DFL-61B) will head the Transportation Finance Committee; Jean Wagenius (DFL-63B) will chair the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee; Jim Davnie (DFL-63A) will chair the Property Tax Division; Karen Clark (DFL-62A) will head the Housing and Finance and Policy Committee; Phyllis Kahn (DFL-60B) will chair the Legacy Committee and Joe Mullery (DFL-59A) will head the Early Childhood and Youth Development Policy Committee. 

In the Minnesota Senate, DFL caucus named Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-62) as deputy majority leader.  

In the Senate, Scott Dibble (DFL-61) will chair the Transportation and Public Safety Division and Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-63) will chair the Education Committee. 

The 2013 Minnesota Legislative Session begins Jan. 8. 

Voter turnout in Hennepin County hits 84 percent

More than 682,000 people voted in Hennepin County, a voter turnout of 84 percent, according to the county’s canvassing board. 

Of those voting, 610,000 cast ballots on Election Day, while 72,000 voted prior to Nov. 6. About 19 percent of voters registered on Election Day. 

“Minnesota typically leads the country with the highest voter turnout — in 12 of the past 16 elections,” Rachel Smith, Hennepin County elec­tions manager said in a press release. “We especially want to thank the more than 5,000 election judges throughout the county who worked to make this election so successful. These election judges are essentially volunteers — they work long hours and put in an incredible amount of effort to make this voting process happen.” 

City wraps up road construction with 68 miles of work in 2012

The city of Minneapolis resurfaced 35 miles of streets and seal coated another 32 miles in 2012, a year of road construction season highlighted by the reconstruction of Nicollet Avenue between Lake and 36th streets. 

The 2012 road construction season was heavy on Southwest projects, including street resurfacing in Armatage and Linden Hills, along with the Near North neighborhood. 

The city has also reconstructed Riverside Avenue over the past two years. 

In 2013, the city will reconstruct Nicollet Avenue from 36th to 40th Street. 

Still time to weigh in on city budget

The Minneapolis City Council will approve a 2013 budget on Dec. 12, but not before taking public input from residents. 

The best chance for residents to weigh in on the budget will be at 6:05 p.m. Nov. 28 in room 317 of City Hall, 350 S. 5th St.

Following that meeting, council members will make changes to Mayor R.T. Rybak’s proposed budget on Dec. 4–5. 

Then, on Dec. 12, the Council will hold another public hearing before finally voting to approve the budget. That meeting will begin at 6:05 p.m. in room 317. 

To catch up on the budget, you can look through the documents at 

http://tinyurl.com/cnxqya5. Or, you can watch recorded budget hearing at 

minneapolismn.gov/tv/79. 

The Council has been approved for up to a 1.7 percent property tax levy hike, but Council members could lower that number during the mark-up session. 

Last year the city kept the property tax levy flat. 

End of an era: Last parking meters removed

On Nov. 14, Minneapolis crews removed the last traditional parking meter from city streets, marking the end of a two-year project to move toward parking pay stations. 

In total, the city took out more than 6,000 of the old coin-fed meters, replacing them with 617 stations that accept both coins and credit cards. 

According to a city press release, drivers have used the pay stations 5.7 million times and used credit cards 55 percent of the time. 

Parking tickets, according to the press release, have reduced by 10 percent over the last year. 

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.