Simpler Minneapolis ballot hits complications

Making the Minneapolis ballot simpler turns out to be more complicated than it looks.

In spite of a growing consensus that it’s too easy for candidates to run for office in the state’s largest city, a proposal to raise the $20 filing fee appears dead for this year.

The city’s Charter Commission proposed raising the cost of running for mayor to $500 in hopes that the current, lame-duck City Council could pass the fee hike at its final  meeting of the year tomorrow.

Raising the fee requires an amendment to the city charter, and state law sets a high bar for passing such amendments. All 13 council members need to vote ‘yes.’

Council Member Betsy Hodges’ office says she can’t make the meeting, because she’s neck-deep in planning her mayoral transition. Without a unanimous vote of the full council, the filing fee hike can’t go forward.

In the end it doesn’t much matter whether the council votes this year, because any amendments made to the charter over the next 12 months will vanish in 2015. That’s when the Plain Language Charter revision voters approved in November goes into effect.

So no matter what this council does about filing fees, the next one will have to grapple with the issue, too. Good thing the next regularly scheduled municipal election isn’t until 2017.