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Minneapolis City Council kills rent control ballot measure with key members absent

The Minneapolis city council shut down a ballot measure that would allow a vote on rent control measures in the city.

The vote, 6-4, happened while three Muslim members, Jamal Osman, Jeremiah Ellison and Aisha Chugthai, were celebrating Eid. Chugthai and Osman authored the proposal. The council did not make an attempt to move the vote later until the members arrived.

“Residents and council members will have different opinions on rent control, but holding a critical vote during a major Muslim holiday is not something that should ever happen in this city,” Councilmember Jason Chavez wrote in a statement.

The vote comes after Minneapolis voters passed a measure that established a commission to study rent control in the city. Councilmember Palmisano reasoned that since the commission finished its work, Minneapolis was not required to pass a measure to put it on the ballot next election season.

The move has received blowback, with both residents and politicians accusing the majority of the council of “anti-democratic” actions, in the words of Councilmember Chavez. Councilmember Andrea Jenkins expressed regret for the move, and said they made “every accommodation” for the members, but also noted that the council must move forward.

“Deeply disappointed in my colleagues on council today,” Councilmember Robin Wonsley wrote on Twitter. “The choice to move forward with today’s rent control vote while three of our members, including two of the bill’s authors, were out honoring Eid, is a disservice to them and the people of Minneapolis, particularly our Muslim residents.”

Attorney General Keith Ellison also expressed “deep disappointment at the insensitivity of taking a critical vote without Muslim members present due to Eid celebrations. I hope no other religious/cultural group would be disregarded this way. This is wrong.”

With the vote, rent control measures in Minneapolis are effectively dead.

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