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Minneapolis residents will soon have the chance to tell City Council members what they think about the idea of amending the city charter to allow voters to directly change city laws.

A public hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Monday on whether the city should adopt a process — often known as citizen initiative, ballot initiative or popular referendum — wherein residents can gather signatures to put a question on the ballot that, if approved, will have the force of law. St. Paul has such a system, as do Duluth and Bloomington. Currently, Minneapolis voters can force the council to consider an issue via a ballot question, but only the council can actually make law.

Supporters consider citizen initiatives a form of direct democracy that can surmount political impasse and check the power of a mayor. Skeptics worry it can weaken the checks and balances of government and lead to dissonant policymaking.

The actual wording of the plan — the details of how it would work — will be made public before the hearing, although exactly when remains unclear.

If it sounds like the idea, introduced by Council Member Robin Wonsley earlier this year, is moving quickly, that's true. Wonsley hopes to have the question put to voters in November. If that's to happen, the City Council needs to move soon in order to give the Charter Commission time to consider it. The City Council is preparing to take it up — potentially amending and voting on it — at its next meeting on Thursday, March 7.

Monday's hearing will be held during the meeting of the council's Committee of the Whole in Room 350 of the Public Service Center, 250 S. Fourth St. (City Hall is under renovation.)