Lawmaker wants aid penalty for sanctuary cities

Legislation under consideration at the Minnesota Capitol would penalize cities and counties that protect unauthorized immigrants.

The bill requires a reduction in state aid to cities and counties equal to the amount spent for legal services to help unauthorized immigrants fight deportations.

The House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division held a hearing Wednesday on the bill. It remains in play for possible inclusion in a larger bill. There is no companion bill in the Minnesota Senate.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, said his bill would also penalize sanctuary cities. Aid payments would stop if a city is “certified” though its policies or ordinances as a sanctuary city by state or federal officials.

“If you want to become a sanctuary city and have policies and tell your employees that you can’t ask immigration status or whatever, whatever you want to do, go ahead and do it,” Drazkowski said. “But the citizens of Steele County are not going to be forced to pay for Hennepin County’s decision to do so.”

Opponents did not raise the issue of which counties generate the most in state tax revenue, but a June 2014 report by nonpartisan House Research showed the seven metro counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington generate considerably more tax revenue than the other 80 counties combined.

Several people spoke against the bill.

Matt Hilgart, government policy analyst with the Association of Minnesota Counties, warned that the bill would create an “adversarial relationship” and punish counties that “don’t behave according to how a senator or representative may want.”

Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene said the proposal is an intrusion into local decision making.

“It jeopardizes our efforts to ensure our residents receive due process in our efforts to keep families whole and safe,” Greene said.