Minnesota cities, schools push for local power 23 Jan 12

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Local government officials are asking the Legislature to give them the flexibility to consolidate and streamline public services without state approval.

The push comes after a series of forums in which local government officials brainstormed ways to save money.

Those ideas included consolidating health care services among schools, cities and counties, using school buses for general community service and creating public safety districts that share police, fire and ambulance service.

A bill in the House would allow counties to directly carry out decisions regarding public health, safety and welfare. Minnesota currently operates under a rule that prohibits any such action unless authorized by state law.