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Determining ward boundaries

Published (5/13/2010)
By Patty Ostberg
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Cities previously had to wait to redraw district boundaries until the Legislature had completed its redistricting process. Under a new law, cities that elect council members by wards can reestablish boundaries in a year ending in “1,” but no later than 14 days before the first day that affidavits of candidacy can be filed for city council members.

Sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), the new law allows the boundaries to be modified before and after the Legislature has redistricted. Once the Legislature has redistricted, no modification in ward boundaries may result in a 5 percent change of the ward population.

In cities of the first class “where council members are elected to serve four-year terms that are not staggered, if the population of any ward changes by 5 percent or more, all council members must be elected to new terms at the first municipal general election after the boundaries have been redefined.”

If no election would occur in the year ending in “2” or “3,” a municipal general election must be held in one of those years.

Kahn said the timing of council elections can be particularly problematic for cities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul when elections happen before the Legislature has completed redistricting.

Signed May 11 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the law is effective May 12, 2010.

HF653*/ SF834/CH313

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