Regents could gain ordinance-making power

A bill allowing regents to create ordinances and impose penalties passed a House committee Friday.

A bill that would allow the University of Minnesota Board of Regents to adopt their own ordinances carrying misdemeanor penalties passed a Minnesota House committee Friday. The bill, authored by Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, would give the regents the power to pass ordinances that would apply on all University land across the state. Nelson said the bill was written to help the University define which laws shall apply to people who attend football games at TCF Bank Stadium beginning this fall. âÄúThey want to come up with a plan so they have a way to enforce ordinances uniformly on game day and uniformly on University properties,âÄù Nelson said. âÄúThey want to get ahead of it before there is a problem they have to fix.âÄù The bill, if enacted, would allow the University to define ordinances like those relating to tailgating so they apply equally on University property across city and county lines. University property and parking for the stadium extends beyond Minneapolis into Falcon Heights and St. Paul. University Police Chief Greg Hestness said the bill would also allow the University to define what laws police officers are to enforce, as some officers will need to be hired specifically for game days. Hestness said the University will require about 90 officers for each game. Currently, there are about 50 full-time officers in the UMPD force. Hestness said the bill would give the University powers similar to other Big Ten schools, including Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Michigan. Other state entities, including the State Fair and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, have similar powers to the ones that would be created by the bill. Still, Peter Ginder of the Minneapolis City AttorneyâÄôs Office told the House Local Government Division on Friday that the bill is too broad and vague in its current form. Ginder said the language of the bill would give the University powers beyond simply enacting game day ordinances. It would allow the school to enact ordinances unrelated to football games, like violating building hours of the UniversityâÄôs public buildings or camping without a permit on campus, Hestness said. According to the billâÄôs text, the Board of Regents could adopt ordinances, âÄúwhich it considers necessary or proper for the government of the University and the protection, health, safety and comfort of the public,âÄù on University land. âÄúThatâÄôs extremely broad and suggestive that this is neither a stadium bill nor a football bill,âÄù Ginder told the committee. âÄúIt moves far beyond that.âÄù Ginder also said the bill does not define University property well enough, and people may be confused as to what and when certain ordinances apply to them. âÄúWe would be having the effect of laws bouncing around as one traverses the city or through the state,âÄù he said. Members of the committee, including Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said they wanted to see greater compromise between the University and Minneapolis as the bill progresses through the Legislature. âÄúIt does seem that the possible compromise here would be to give this authority for football games and other events,âÄù Hornstein said. âÄúIt seems like thereâÄôs a way out of this.âÄù Ginder said Minneapolis would be interested in working with the University on this issue. âÄúI think the city and the University certainly are interested in partnering together,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre just concerned about the breadth of this particular language.âÄù -Devin Henry is a senior staff reporter