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Minnesota Cities, Schools Push For Local Power

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Local government officials on Monday asked legislators to make it easier for them to consolidate and streamline public services without state approval.

Their push comes after a series of forums in which municipal government officials brainstormed ways to improve efficiency. Among their top ideas: sharing 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 statute currently prohibits any such action unless authorized by state law.

Fillmore County commissioner Duane Bakke said several southeastern counties trying to collaborate on health and human services projects often run into roadblocks.

“Every time we run into a small tweak that has to happen in order for us to work together, you’ve got to go back to the legislative process to get that done,” Bakke said. With the bill, he said, “We could go right to the department, whatever that may be, and get those changes made.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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