Grassroots support of SE MN since the 1960s
Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities is
* A unified voice promoting regional legislative policy
* Educational programs geared to city officials of our region
* A credible resource for legislators and state staff
* Run by member volunteers
* Neighbor cities working together
* Open to cities of all sizes
* Uniquely regional and grassroots
* Local networking opportunities
As of January 30, 2020, the SEMLM now serves the Minnesota counties of Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona.
The History of the SEMLM
Serving our communities
Community service is the mainstay of the Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities (SEMLM) today just as in its beginning. While some of the discussion topics from the first year sound dated or even humorous today, others are the exact same topics cities continue to struggle with such as PERA.
In the sections that follow, the SEMLM starts as a three county league of communities working together to have their collective voice heard by the legislature, and to network on local issues to share solutions. That has remained the unique purpose and function of this organization. What changes in the more recent years is the size of the group. From a low point in the mid 1990s, the SEMLM has grown to encompass an eight county area of communities with a nine member board. The organization continues to grow and serve its members in ways other city organizations cannot. The SEMLMs niche is its regional uniqueness and grassroots style.
The First Years
17th of January, 1962
The first recorded meeting was before the group had even decided its name. The minutes record that it consisted of municipalities from Houston and Fillmore Counties. A handwritten note on the minutes appears to amend it to include Winona County. Spring Grove, Mabel, Caledonia, Goodview, Rushford, Spring Valley, and Houston were the first cities represented there at the Houston Village Hall meeting with Mayor Robert Bedore calling it to order. Local government officials met to discuss the hot issues of their day: bookkeeping systems, the amount paid to liquor store managers and employees, the Village Dump, PERA, the Clerk/Treasurer combination, and Village contracts being raised from $1000 to $2500.Officers elected were:
* President Mayor Arthur Miller, Rushford
* Vice President Mayor Robert Bedore, Houston
* Secretary Treasurer Clerk Gerald J. Koenig, Caledonia
25th of April, 1962
The second quarterly meeting, held in Caledonia, now identifies the group as the Minnesota Southeastern League of Municipalities; however records and documents from that same year also use the name Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities. The roll call showed the following cites present: Spring Valley, Lanesboro, Rushford, Houston, Eitzen, Goodview, Spring Grove, Mabel, and Caledonia. O.M. (Mike) Ousdigian, Secretary of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), spoke to the group and answered questions and critizisms (sic) about matters pretaining (sic) to said organization. The group adopted its first constitution as written by John Rippe.
26th of September, 1962
Held in Lanesboro, the municipalities represented were: Lanesboro, Rushford, La Crescent, Goodview, Houston, Spring Valley, Harmony, and Caledonia. Dues were set at $10.00 per community. Members were encouraged to attend a sectional meeting coming up in Chatfield. In preparation for that meeting, the members voted to have a resolution completed to make Social Security available for public employees or to substitute Social Security for PERA. They also voted to have a resolution ready to increase the right of cities to purchase items up to $2500 without advertising for bids, instead of the $1000 limit. Bottle Club problems were discussed by Mayor Grabau of Spring Valley with the group and with attorney Duxbury.
29th of January, 1963
Rushford hosted the meeting for attendees from Houston, Spring Grove, Peterson, Lewiston, Caledonia, Goodview, St. Charles, Harmony, Chatfield, Rushford, and Lanesboro. The group voted to have President Miller call State Representative Lloyd Duxbury that night to have their group on record as recommending that PERA be changed or incorporated with Social Security, and that said call be forwarded to the State Legislature. Officers elected were:
* President Robert Bedore, Houston
* Vice President Dean Dennison, Caledonia
* Secretary Treasurer Rex A. Johnson, Goodview
* Executive Board John Rippe, Caledonia
* Thomas Flynn, Houston
* Mayor Hoff, Peterson
The new century
In early 2000, the SEMLM grew from three counties to six with the addition of Mower, Olmsted and Wabasha Counties. The group reinstated the practice of working on legislative issues for member cities. A reinvigorated board met monthly to revise the constitution and by-laws for member action. By 2002, two more counties, Goodhue and Dodge, were added to the organization for a total of eight. Two more board seats were created and seated for a total of nine. The SEMLM continues to grow its membership in the region and serve communities in the eight-county area.
Legislative activity has grown to the point where in recent years legislators have called our SEMLM presidents for input on topics. During the years of the Ventura administration, the SEMLM was invited to attend and present at an event at the Governors mansion. The only city organization in the state at that event was the SEMLM. The Governors office cited the SEMLMs grassroots style as the reason for the invitation. The SEMLM has had extraordinary access to legislators during the height of legislative pressures, because our board members make personal visits to the area lawmakers. Former Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum would come off the House floor to speak to SEMLM board members, but not other city organizations lobbyists, because, as he said, "You're the real deal."
At the January 2020 Annual Membership meeting, the members voted unanimously to add the counties of Freeborn, Rice, and Steele to the membership area, and added two more board seats for a total of eleven.