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S.F. No. 1731 - Authorizing the Appointment of Specified County Offices
Author: Senator Gary H. Dahms
Prepared By: Joan White, Senate Counsel (651/296-3814)
Date: February 25, 2019


This bill allows counties to appoint, instead of elect, the offices of county auditor, treasurer, recorder, and auditor-treasurer, under certain conditions. Current law requires the passage of a referendum to change positions from elected to appointed.

Sections 1 to 3, 5 and 6 (375.08, 375A.10, subd. 5, 375A.12, subd. 2, 382.01, 382.02) make technical conforming changes.

Section 4 (375A.1205, subd. 1) allows the county board to appoint, without referendum, the county auditor, county treasurer, or county recorder if there is a vacancy or there is a signed contract between the county board and the incumbent office holder that the incumbent will be appointed to the position.

Subdivision 2 requires an elected county official to notify the county board whether the official will be filing for election for another term. If the county board has passed a resolution under subdivision 6, affidavits of candidacy will not be accepted and the office will not be placed on the ballot.

Subdivision 3 provides that upon adoption of a resolution by the county board of commissioners, the duties of an elected official required by statute must be discharged by the county board, acting through a department head.

Subdivision 4, paragraph (a) provides that a person who was elected to this position prior to the county board resolution to make the office appointed may not be involuntarily demoted or discharged except for incompetency or misconduct. This section specifies the process for demoting or discharging an incumbent office holder. The incumbent may request a hearing before an arbitrator and the arbitrator must determine whether the grounds for discharge or demotion exist.

Subdivision 5 requires the person elected to the position be allowed to complete the term of office.

Subdivision 6 provides that prior to adopting a resolution to appoint offices, the county board must publish a proposed resolution notifying the public once per week for two consecutive weeks. Prior to adopting the resolution, the county board must provide an opportunity at its next regular meeting for public comment. After public comment, the board may adopt the resolution that provides for the appointment of the offices, which must be approved by 80 percent of the members of the county board.  The resolution takes effect after 30 days, unless a later date is provided in the resolution. A petition requesting a referendum may be filed within 30 days after the adoption of the resolution. If the petition is signed by at least ten percent of the registered voters in the county, the resolution is rescinded.

Subdivision 7 relates to reverting appointed offices to elected offices.  This section prohibits the county board from adopting a resolution to make an appointed position an elected position for at least three years after the resolution passed. To revert to elected offices, the county board must provide notice and an opportunity for public comment, prior to passing the resolution.  The question whether an appointed position must be made an elected office must be placed on the ballot if the position has been an appointed position for at least three years, a petition is signed by at least ten percent of the registered voters, and the petition is sufficient.  If a majority of the voters in the county vote in favor of making the office an elected position, the election for that office must be held at the next election.

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