Bill would move airport meetings outside of security checkpoints

When the Metropolitan Airports Commission was deciding whether or not to support a new flight plan affecting Minneapolis and Edina neighborhoods, its meeting was held behind cumbersome security checkpoints at the airport.

A bill introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives would force the MAC to hold meetings of “broad public interest” outside of airport security and without requiring attendees to present a picture ID.

The bill, authored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-61A), defines meetings of broad public interest as those likely to draw more than 30 people.

The MAC regularly meets in the airport’s Terminal 1. The MAC website warns prospective attendees: “Members of the public must complete a form and present a government issued photo ID at the Information Booth on the terminal’s Tram Level to gain admittance.”

The MAC held six Noise Oversight Committee meetings outside of the airport in 2012. Those meetings are when noise issues are discussed with residents. 

Much of the rest of MAC matters conern business, and having meetings in the airport makes more sense, since interested parties often fly in for the meetings, said MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan.

The MAC validates parking and the airport is easily accessible by light rail, Hogan pointed out. Attendees go through an employee security line, so they don’t have to wait with flight passengers.

The MAC has held board meetings at its headquarters, 6040 28th Ave. S., but that can be difficult because the technology needed for the meetings, like video cameras and microphones, is kept at the airport.

“The challenge for us is when it comes to Metropolitan Airports Commission Board meetings, we have all the infrastructure set up in the chambers,” Hogan said. 

Moving MAC meetings outside the airport has been a demand of anti-airport noise groups for years. In May of 2011, MAC Chair Dan Boivin told the Southwest Journal he wanted to hold more meetings out in the community.

Hornstein introduced his bill (H.F. 1219) on Monday. It was referred to the Government Operations Committee, where it hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing yet.