Updates from the Government Relations team are sent periodically during the legislative session.                                                  
Legislative Update - March 25, 2016

Yesterday closed out Week 3 of the legislative session as lawmakers head home for a brief Easter break beginning today but not before a busy day of committee hearings and floor sessions.

The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee had a full agenda with multiple bills including SF2589, a bill that establishes a supplemental instruction program at MnSCU colleges and universities. Senator Clausen offered an amendment. Pakou Yang, system director for P-120 and college transitions along with North Hennepin Community College English faculty member, Ben Kiely, and Winona State University Mathematics faculty, Mark Markegard testified on the work that is happening on campuses. The bill was passed by the committee and referred to Finance. The bill can be found HERE.

Committee members also heard about both MnSCU and the University of Minnesota’s college completion plans. In 2015, the Legislature enacted a law that both systems were to develop a plan to improve college completion. The U of M report can be found HERE.  Toyia Younger, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and interim chief diversity officer and Wendy Robinson,  director of student services provided on update on MnSCU's report which can be found HERE.

Investing in Students

The House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee heard from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities yesterday about the importance of the system’s $21 million supplemental budget request as well as their $254.5 million bonding request.

Board of Trustees Chair Michael Vekich thanked committee members for the work they did last legislative session, and explained that MnSCU colleges and universities are a place of hope and opportunity for all students and that state support for the colleges and universities is imperative to provide that opportunity.

Chancellor Steven Rosenstone also thanked lawmakers for their funding last session, but explained that there was a gap of $21 million, which is why MnSCU is asking for the remaining funds. Without the additional funding, Rosenstone told committee members that colleges and universities would have to cut student services instead of investing in students. He went on to explain that MnSCU students face financial as well as academic challenges, so those services are imperative to their success. Rosenstone said the colleges and universities need to make sure the right people are on the campuses to serve students to ensure their success while in college as well as out in the workplace.  

MnSCU Vice Chancellor and CFO Laura King, explained that MnSCU has only two main revenue streams, state funding and tuition. King said state support remains 22 percent lower than in 2002. While state investments over recent years has helped improve the state appropriation and tuition relationship, King said, they are still behind. She said every president is working on balancing their budget, but continues to struggle. She said spending cuts would likely affect student services such as academic advisors, mental health counselors, career counselors, financial aid advisors and other support personnel.

Devinder Malhotra, Interim President of Metropolitan State University, told committee members that it’s important for the university’s budget to be augmented by state support. He explained that last year Metropolitan State University contacted more than 500 former students who had dropped out of college with just a semester or two left, sent them a completion plan and offered support programs such as curriculum counseling and additional financial aid so they could finish their degree. Malhotra said 57 of those students will graduate in the coming year, and explained that this is the type of program that would benefit from the $21 million request.  

President Kent Hanson at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Anoka Technical College also testified before the committee. He said focusing on student success is important to the college as well and that the $21 million will help with the necessary resources to serve students, such as tutoring and advising.

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities also presented their $254.5 million bonding request. Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Brian Yolitz told members that the bonding request is built on student success, and said the system’s top priority is asset preservation and taking care of the buildings they already have. Yolitz explained that there is a backlog of almost $1.6 billion to keep the colleges and universities warm, safe and dry. He said the strategy is to chip away at the backlog while addressing new needs as they emerge.

MnSCU capital investment request can be found HERE

MnSCU supplemental budget request can be found HERE

Next week at the Capitol

Tuesday, March 29  

8:15 a.m.
House Education Innovation Policy
Room: Basement Hearing Room
Chair: Rep. Sondra Erickson
HF2778 (Erickson) Deaf and hard-of-hearing and the blind and visually impaired advisory committees report modified.
 HF3543 (Hertaus) Education commissioner's authority to adopt desegregation and integration rules for Minnesota's public schools clarified, and eligible districts defined in statute.
HF2805 (Fenton) Grow Your Own teacher residency pilot program established, and money appropriated.
HF3132 (Erickson) Teacher Shortage Act created, and money appropriated.
HF3586 (Erickson) Parent's responsibility to educate a child clarified.
HF3627 (Ward) Perpich Center for Arts Education board structure amended and additional oversight provided.
HF3313 (Christensen) Student Discipline Working Group to review the substance, application, and effect of Minnesota's Pupil Fair Dismissal act and make recommendations to the legislature created.
HF2671 (Lucero) Student data access addressed, disclosure requirements affecting personally identifiable information about a student clarified, information in electronic student education records managed, student survey requirements established, and civil penalties provided.
HF3204 (Erickson) Charter school provisions technical and grammatical corrections made, and erroneous, ambiguous, and omitted text corrected.
HF3332 (Selcer) Struggling student pilot project to help those in grades 3 to 5 read at grade level established, and money appropriated.

8:15 a.m.
House State Government Finance
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Sarah Anderson
HF3001 (Loonan) Federal penalty disclosure relating to purchase or sale of state bonds required.
HF2971 (Gruenhagen)Fiscal note requirements added.

12:00 p.m.
Senate in Session

12:15 p.m.
House in Session

12:45 p.m.
House Education Finance
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Jenifer Loon
HF1529 (Fenton) Education Savings Accounts for Students with Special Needs Act created, and money appropriated.
HF1368 (Kresha) Tax credit provided for contributions to qualified foundations.
HF2670 (Kresha) Early learning scholarships, home visiting programs, and parent aware activities funding increased; early learning scholarship cap eliminated; eligible age range for early learning scholarships and targeted home visiting program expanded, and money appropriated.

Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development
Room: 1100 Minnesota Senate Building
Chair: Senator Terri Bonoff
Agenda: Minnesota State Colleges & Universities - FY17 Supplemental Budget Request &

2016 Capital Request

S.F. 3036-Hoffman, J.: Higher education students with intellectual and developmental disabilities pilot program implementation at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).
S.F. 2696-Jensen: Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) agricultural science education courses transfer curriculum inclusion.
S.F. 2719-Jensen: Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) and University of Minnesota (U of M) bookstores price-matching policies requirement; performance goal for cost reduction.
S.F. 3091-Kent: Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) open textbook pilot program establishment and appropriation.
S.F. 2831-Abeler: Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) full value to credits earned in the system.  

2:45 p.m.
House Higher Education Policy and Finance
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Bud Nornes
HF3130 (Dean) Legislative auditor review of University of Minnesota research activities that involve the use of fetal tissue requested, and money appropriated.
HF3083 (McDonald) Concurrent enrollment provisions modified, and supplemental instruction program establishment by the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State colleges and Universities required.
HF2660 (Baker) Addiction medicine graduate medical education fellowship program grant program established, and money appropriated.
HF3090 (O'Neill) Student loan counseling program unworkable requirement eliminated.
HF2798 (O'Neill) Dual training grant program clarified.  

Wednesday, March 30  

8:30 a.m.
Senate Education
Room: 2412 Minnesota Senate Building
Chair: Sen. Charles W. Wiger
Agenda: Education policy bill rollout and testimony 10:15 a.m.
House Government Operations and Elections Policy
Room: Basement Hearing Room
Chair: Rep. Tim Sanders
HF3208 (Hackbarth) Blaze orange hunting requirements modified to allow blaze pink.
HF2988 (Knoblach) Minnesota State colleges and Universities personnel plan ratified.
HF3255 (Knoblach) Labor agreements ratified.
HF3470 (Vogel) Municipality use of public utility license, permit rights, or franchise fees to raise revenue notice, hearing, and reverse referendum provided.
HF2683 (Kresha) Child protection legislative task force extended.
HF2104 (Albright) Blue Ribbon Commission established to study and make recommendations on metropolitan governance, and money appropriated.
HF2467 (Albright) Metropolitan Council membership and terms modified.
HF2771 (Bly) Minnesota Organic Advisory Task Force extended, consultation of the Minnesota Organic Advisory Task force by the agriculture commissioner and recommendations to the legislature required.

11:00 a.m.
Senate in Session

2:45 p.m.
House Higher Education Policy and Finance
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Bud Nornes
HF3275 (Nornes) Child care grant eligibility modified.
HF2815 (Nornes) Postsecondary education planning information provisions modified.
HF3103 (Urdahl) College Possible program funding increased, and money appropriated.
HF3165 (Fenton) Alternative teacher preparation grant program established, and money appropriated.
HF2965 (Applebaum) Student loan income tax credit allowed.
HF2924 (Hortman) Student loan refinancing program funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF2729 (Lien) Loan forgiveness program for individuals working in greater Minnesota established, report required, and money appropriated.
HF2547 (Norton) University of Minnesota, Rochester campus collegiate recovery program establishment funding provided, report required, and money appropriated.
HF2546 (Norton) Student loan refinancing expanded, and refinancing in emergency circumstances permitted.
HF2576 (Murphy) Loan forgiveness program awareness promoted.

Thursday, March 31

8:30 a.m.
Senate Education
Room: 2412 Minnesota Senate Building
Chair: Sen. Charles W. Wiger
Agenda: Action on Education omnibus policy bill  

10:15 a.m.
House Government Operations and Elections Policy
Room: Basement Hearing Room
Chair: Rep. Tim Sanders
HF2665 (Zerwas) Minnesota Eligibility System Executive Steering Committee to govern the Minnesota eligibility system established.
HF2814 (Erickson Legislative study group to review the legislative auditor's 2016 report on kindergarten through grade 12 teacher licensure and consider how to implement the recommendations  established.
HF3517 (Newberger) Unmanned aircraft system operation regulated, penalties provided, and rulemaking authorized.
HF2404 (Knoblach) Speed limit governing authority in rural residential districts amended.
HF2688 (Sanders) Election and election administration provisions modified.
HF3508 (Fabian) Public Utilities Commission member election at the state general election provided.
HF3584 (Cornish) Labor agreements ratified.
HF3585 (Drazkowski) Labor agreements and compensation plans ratified, authority of exclusive representatives to charge fair share fees and for dues deductions repealed, affirmative approval before interim implementation of state employee collective bargaining agreements required, and legislative approval of political subdivision compensation waivers required.
 HF3497 (Mariani) Small vehicle passenger service ordinances that regulate pedicabs requirements amended.
HF2401 (Erhardt) Edina; time to file approval of a 2014 special law extended.
HF3357 (Melin) Hibbing's Public Utility Commission membership increase authorized.
HF3213 (Kahn) Agency procurement of supplies or services from persons that fail to disclose information relating to conflict minerals originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or its neighboring countries prohibited, an agency providing notice of the prohibition in any solicitation for supplies or services required.

11:00 a.m.
Senate in Session

Looking Ahead

Tuesday, April 5  

4:00 p.m.
Senate Capital Investment
Room: 1200 Minnesota Senate Building
Chair: Sen. LeRoy A. Stumpf
Agenda: Asset Preservation

Important Links:

  • Most recent bill introductions related to higher education (compiled by Government Relations team) SPREADSHEET (updated 3/25/16)
  • Committee schedules can be found HERE
  • Many committee hearings and floor sessions are streamed live via the web or broadcast on television. More information and a schedule can be found HERE

Government Relations team:

Jaime Simonsen – Jaime.simonsen@so.mnscu.edu
Bernie Omann – Bernie.omann@so.mnscu.edu
Jim Grathwol – jim.grathwol@so.mnscu.edu

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