County District Court File No. 27-CV-16-10786
Gregory J. Joseph, Joseph Law Office PLLC, Bloomington,
Minnesota (for appellants)
C. Hoff, Shelley M. Ryan, Hoff Barry, P.A., Eden Prairie,
Minnesota (for respondent)
L. Naughton, League of Minnesota Cities, St. Paul, Minnesota
(for amicus curiae League of Minnesota Cities)
CFlorey, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Kalitowski,
115A.94 of the Minnesota Waste Management Act (MWMA), Minn.
Stat. §§ 115A.01-.99 (2016), mandating a
municipality's adherence to a specific process when
establishing a system of organized collection of solid waste,
preempts a proposed city charter amendment to require voter
approval before a municipality establishes organized
collection of solid waste.
challenge the district court's summary judgment in favor
of the city and the ruling that appellants' proposed city
charter amendment to require voter approval before the city
establishes a system of organized collection of solid waste
is preempted by Minn. Stat. § 115A.94. Because we
conclude that by enacting Minn. Stat. § 115A.94 the
legislature has preempted the field of legislation on a
municipality's establishment of organized collection, we
2014, respondent City of Bloomington began the statutory
process under the MWMA to change from an open system of
collection of solid waste to a system of organized
collection. Under an open system, residents are free to hire
a city-licensed collector to collect their solid waste; under
an organized-collection system, the city contracts with a
specific collector or group of collectors to remove garbage
in defined areas. Minn. Stat. § 115A.94, subd. 1.
is a home-rule charter city under Minnesota Statutes chapter
410. The city's charter reserves for its citizens the
power to bring forth ballot initiatives, referenda, and
amendments to the city charter. Bloomington, Minn., City
Charter (BCC) §§ 5.01-.12 (2017); see
Minn. Stat. § 410.12 (2016).
March 2015, appellants, a group of city residents opposed to
the city's efforts to implement organized collection,
petitioned the city for a ballot initiative on an ordinance
that would require voter approval as a prerequisite to the
city's adoption of organized collection. The city
attorney determined that the MWMA preempts appellants'
proposed ordinance and that a ballot initiative for the
proposed ordinance constituted a "premature
referendum" because it sought to refer an issue to the
voters before the city council actually passed an ordinance.
In late June 2015, appellants sued the city, seeking an order
to compel approval of the petition for a ballot initiative.
public hearing on June 22, 2015, the city council resolved to
adopt a system of organized collection of solid waste. On
December 21, the city council adopted an organized-collection
ordinance, effective December 31. On December 21, the city
also executed a five-year contract with Bloomington Haulers
LLC, a consortium of solid-waste collectors. The contract
detailed the types of waste to be collected, the dates and
times of waste pickup in specified city zones, and the rights
and responsibilities of the parties.
April 25, 2016, the district court granted summary judgment
in favor of the city in Jennissen I. The court
concluded that appellants' proposed ordinance was neither
a proper initiative nor a proper referendum because it did
not actually propose a new ordinance or refer to an ordinance
passed by the city council. The court concluded that
appellants' goal to limit the power of the city council
could only be achieved through amendment of the city charter
under Minn. Stat. § 410.12.
next submitted to the city a petition for a proposed charter
amendment to be placed on a ballot. Appellants' proposed
charter amendment was nearly identical to the prior proposed
ordinance and read:
Unless first approved by a majority of the voters in a state
general election, the City shall not replace the competitive
market in solid waste collection with a system in which solid
waste services are provided by government-chosen collectors
or in government-designated districts. The adoption of this
charter amendment shall supersede any ordinances . . .
related to solid waste adopted by the City Council in
27, 2016, the city council found that the proposed amendment
was "manifestly unconstitutional" because it
impaired the city's contract with the consortium,
interfered with the city's "lengthy and thoughtful
legislative process, " and was preempted by the MWMA.