5/15/2020 10:19:00 AM Rep. Neu hopeful on
legislative action to
expand Water & Light
The pieces are falling into place for North Branch Water and Light Commission to be re-built.
Minnesota Representative Anne Neu, R-North Branch, is carrying a bill to expand the commission to five members and she said last week she sees nothing blocking its approval; but there was no firm schedule at that time. The Republicans are in the minority in the Minnesota House and if the bill (HF 3020) should be rolled into an omnibus measure or if it comes up on its own on the floor it’s up to the majority leader. Rep. Neu didn’t want to make any guarantees, but she foresees no problems with passage before this legislative session ends this month.
The expanded public utility commission bill becomes effective once the city of North Branch adopts an ordinance incorporating it into the city’s laws (simple majority vote) and files the expanded five person agency with the Secretary of State.
The Minnesota Senate has already okayed the Water and Light revision 67-0. The companion bill to HF 3242 carried by Mark Koran, SF 3020 cleared the Senate the end of April. North Branch City Council has been looking at the make-up of the future expanded commission and is getting prepared for the new power of appointments. The city is re-writing the Water and Light Commission application and other conditions for serving.
The council has come to consensus there will be four appointed immediately and one current Utility Commissioner, Chris Bibeau, whose term ends December 2020, will be allowed to finish this out. This seat will bea three-year term that will be appointed January 2021.
Meanwhile, there will be immediate appointments made this summer for the other four seats, including: a term that expires December 2021, two seats will expire in December 2022 and the fourth will have a December 2023 expiration.
More discussion was on this week’s city council agenda, with decisions still pending on how many city council liaison members there ought to be of the five, and if members need to be customers in water and light service territory (ie: not East Central Electric or Xcel.) Council appears comfortable with someone serving who is not a resident, but does own a business in North Branch.