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State Relations Updates

January 26, 2015

Dayton announces med school proposal

On Wednesday, January 21, Governor Mark Dayton proposed a major new investment in the University of Minnesota Medical School. The proposal would allow the University to hire 50 more medical researchers over the next eight years, address Minnesota’s looming shortage of doctors statewide, secure new grants, and support medical innovation and job creation. Governor Dayton’s proposal is based on the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Committee and will be included in Governor Dayton's 2015 budget proposal. Read Governor Dayton’s press release.

University officials provide overview presentations to House Higher Ed

On Tuesday, January 20, Dr. Brooks Jackson, Dean of the Medical School and Vice President for Health Sciences, and Provost Karen Hanson testified in front of the House Higher Education Committee. Provost Hanson presented on what makes the University a land-grant university, how the university is different from MnSCU, how each campus is unique, and the university’s impact on the state. View the presentation.

Dr. Jackson’s overview of the Academic Health Center (AHC) acquainted members with the schools, colleges and programs that make up the AHC as well as the range of research within the AHC. View the presentation. Between the November elections and the change in leadership in the House, this committee has a significant number of new members and the purpose of this presentation was to familiarize new members with the U.

2015 Capital Request

On Thursday, January 22, Vice President for University Services Pam Wheelock presented the University’s 2015 Capital Request to the House Capital Investment Committee. House members watched the request video and then listened to a detailed presentation on the University’s three proposed projects. View the presentation.

Updates provided to Senate Higher Ed

Also on Thursday, January 22, University officials were requested by the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee to present on several ongoing initiatives. First, Vice President for Research Brian Herman gave on update on MnDRIVE, a research initiative funded by the legislature in 2013. To date, MnDRIVE has led to 173 hires, 120 funded projects, and 31 patents, disclosures and intellectual property.

Next, Vice President for Human Resources Kathryn Brown presented an update on University initiatives stemming from last year’s Sibson and Huron reports, including changes in the human resource management system and job family study. Finally, Vice President and CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter and his staff reported the University’s achievement of all five performance measures specified in session law. The committee ran out of time due to many senators’ questions. The presentation will be continued on Tuesday.

Star Tribune: “U, higher ed deserve a boost at State Capitol”

Star Tribune editorial writer Lori Sturdevant sat down with President Kaler two weeks ago to review the U's legislative request. Read the resulting opinion piece from Sunday, January 18, which articulates the value of a research university and advocates for increased higher education funding this session.

Legislative deadlines announced

Last week, the House and Senate agreed upon the following legislative deadlines:
Friday, March 20: committees must act favorably on bills in the house of origin
Friday, March 27: committees must act favorably on bills, or companion bills, which met the first deadline in the other house
Friday, April 24: the House Committee on Ways & Means and the Senate Committee on Finance must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills

Governor’s budget to be announced January 27

Governor Mark Dayton will release his budget on Tuesday. In addition to investment in the University of Minnesota Medical School, the budget is anticipated to include significant funding for transportation and $516 million for children through early and K-12 education, human services, and child care tax credits. The governor is expected to release a supplemental budget after the February economic forecast.

The Office of Government and Community Relations is poised to respond and advocate for the U’s 2016-17 Budget Request through the Legislative Action Network. Join the Legislative Action Network.

January 16, 2015

Press briefing at the Capitol

On Tuesday, January 13, University of Minnesota leaders outlined the benefits of the U of M's 2016-17 biennial budget request at two media events. In the morning, KSTP, KARE 11, and MPR visited campus to learn about the “Access and Affordability” and “Healthy Minnesota” initiatives.

Later, at the State Capitol, President Kaler discussed all four aspects of the proposal in a press briefing. Here is some of the coverage:

Also, on Wednesday, January 14, the Star Tribune published a great article on the U of M’s research.

Kaler meets with Dayton

On Monday, January 12, President Kaler met with Governor Mark Dayton and his staff at the governor's residence. President Kaler presented the University of Minnesota's priorities for the upcoming legislative session. In addition, President Kaler and Governor Dayton discussed the upcoming recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Medical School, chaired by Commissioner Larry Pogemiller of the Office of Higher Education.

Governor Dayton reiterated his support for higher education and the U of M's success. Governor Dayton will release his proposed budget on January 27.

Legislative hearings begin for higher ed

The House Higher Education Committee met this week to receive an overview of the committee’s jurisdiction and to hear introductions from new members. The committee’s nonpartisan staff presented on the higher education budget and policy issues, along with recent data and trends for the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the Office of Higher Education. The Office of Higher Education also presented on its duties and responsibilities as the agency responsible for administrating the state's financial aid programs and licensure of private and career schools, among other activities.

The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee held a hearing on action items resulting from the North Star Summit, which took place in December. The summit convened public and private stakeholders to identify common goals for Minnesota’s higher education system to meet the state’s workforce needs.

January 9, 2015

2015 legislative session convenes

The 89th legislative session kicked off on Tuesday, January 6. The House is now led by a Republican majority and a DFL minority. As expected, Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) was elected House speaker, and Rep. Paul Thissen (D-Minneapolis) was elected by his caucus as the minority leader. Since the Senate did not face reelection last November, no changes to leadership in either caucus were necessary. Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice Lori Gildea administered the oath of office to the 134 members of the House, including the 26 newly elected representatives.

Both parties held press conferences to announce their top priorities for 2015. The Senate DFL’s top six bills are focused on Greater Minnesota and workforce education. The House GOP’s bills are focused on five areas: jobs, K-12 education, elder care, transportation, and health care. While their priorities are not identical, they are similar in theme.

Governor inauguration

Governor Dayton and the other constitutional officers were sworn in on Monday, January 5, at the Landmark Center in St. Paul. In his inaugural address, Governor Dayton highlighted the importance of education to Minnesota's economic health and specifically mentioned higher education investments. At the conclusion of the inauguration ceremony, U of M Law School alum and Supreme Court justice Alan Page introduced the Minnesota Rouser.

Read Governor Dayton’s 2015 Inaugural Address.

Floyd and Little Brown Jug visit the State Capitol

Athletic director Norwood Teague was invited by Representative Dean Urdahl (R-Litchfield) to bring the Little Brown Jug and Floyd of Rosedale to the House Chamber this week. This is the first time the U of M has possessed both trophies since 1967. Teague was introduced on the House floor by Representative Urdahl and held up the jug for all to see. The legislators then had the opportunity to have photos taken with the trophies in the retiring room behind the House chamber.

Legislation introduced

In the session’s first week the House and Senate introduced 60 and 55 bills respectively. Approximately 20 of those bills may impact the U of M. Government Relations will track new bills throughout the legislative process and notify U of M stakeholders who may be affected.

Governor's committee releases draft report on the Medical School

The final meeting of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Committee on the University of Minnesota Medical School was held on Thursday, January 8. The governor has charged the committee to provide a report with specific policy and budget recommendations to be considered during the 2015 legislative session. This week the committee reviewed and provided input on the draft report. Discussion occurred as to whether the U of M’s biennial request should be included within the report or marked as a separate category from the two listed above. The request will be included in the report. A final draft of the report reflecting the committee’s discussion will be distributed to members of the committee by midweek next week, and the governor is expected to announce his decision on the recommendations in his biennial budget release on January 27.

Legislative Action Kickoff

Join your hosts, University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler and Alumni Association board chair Jim DuBois on February 3 to learn about issues that will affect the U of M during the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Session and to discover ways you can help. No previous political or legislative knowledge required. Complimentary light refreshments will be available. RSVP.

December 5, 2014

State budget forecast released

Yesterday, Minnesota Management and Budget released the state budget forecast, projecting a $1.037 billion budget surplus for the 2016-17 biennium without inflation. A surplus of $373 million is also forecasted for the end of fiscal year 2015. Increased income tax revenues and decreased health and human services spending are the biggest contributors to the surplus.

At a press conference, Governor Dayton said his budget proposal to the legislature will likely include funding for child care tax credits, rural broadband expansion, and early childhood scholarships. He also stated the he does not see a need for increased taxes, except possibly for transportation.

As you may recall, the University of Minnesota is requesting a $127.2 million increase for its FY 2016-17 biennial budget, and $77 million for three capital projects. Read President Kaler’s comments on the forecast.

House committee chairs and schedule announced

Last week, the incoming Republican House majority released its committee schedule and committee chairs for the upcoming biennium. As stated in a press release, more than half of the 26 committees will be chaired by representatives of Greater Minnesota. View the committee schedule.

The Senate is expected to also release a new committee schedule to the State Capitol renovation.

November 7, 2014

GOP wins back majority in the Minnesota House; Governor Dayton reelected

On Tuesday, Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) was re-elected, while Republicans took control of the Minnesota House. The DFL will retain control of all constitutional offices, including a new secretary of state, former State Rep. Steve Simon. Minnesota Republicans defeated 11 DFL incumbents (10 in Greater Minnesota, 1 in the suburbs) while holding on to all of their own seats to gain a 72-62 majority. The 11 Republican pick-ups are as follows:

2A – Dave Hancock (vs. Erickson)
10A – Joshua Heintzman (vs. Ward)
10B – Dale Lueck (vs. Radinovich)
11B – Jason Rarick (vs. Faust)
12A – Jeff Backer (vs. McNamar)
14B – Jim Knoblach (vs. Dorholt)
17A – Tim Miller (vs. Falk)
17B – Dave Baker (vs. Sawatsky)
24B – Brian Daniels (vs. Fritz)
27A – Peggy Bennett (vs. Savick)
56B – Roz Peterson (vs. Morgan)

There will be a total of 26 new faces in the House. The following 15 candidates were elected to open seats:

7A – Jennifer Schultz, DFL
19B – Jack Considine, DFL
20A – Bob Vogel, R
26B – Nels Pierson, R
30B – Eric Lucero, R
34B – Dennis Smith, R
35A – Abigail Whelan, R
44B – Jon Applebaum, DFL
46B – Cheryl Youakim, DFL
47A – Jim Nash, R
53B – Kelly Fenton, R
55A – Bob Loonan, R
56A – Drew Christensen, R
58A – Jon Koznick, R
64B – Dave Pinto, DFL

Yesterday, the House DFL elected Paul Thissen as its minority leader. Today, Republicans elected Kurt Daudt as speaker and Joyce Peppin as majority leader. Committee chairs and membership will be assigned in the weeks to come. In addition to the organizational decisions for both caucuses, another round of musical chairs will ensue as the new Republican majority swaps offices with the new DFL minority in the State Office Building.

The Minnesota Senate was not on the ballot this year, so its current leadership and committee memberships are expected to remain unchanged.

The 2015 session begins on Tuesday, January 6.

OCtober 29, 2014

State relations team prepares for 2015 legislative session

On October 10, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted to approve President Kaler’s 2016-17 Biennial Budget Request and 2015 Capital Request. The budget request includes four initiatives:

Learn more about the biennial budget request.

The 2015 Capital Request includes three projects:

Learn more about the capital request.

The state relations team has already begun to meet with elected officials and staff about these requests. A new legislature will convene in January and consider the University’s budget and capital requests.

Biennial budget request presented to state officials

President Kaler and Vice President Brooks Jackson presented the University of Minnesota's budget request last week to Commissioner Schowalter of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), Commissioner Pogemiller of the Office of Higher Education, Commissioner of Revenue Myron Frans, Governor's Dayton’s staff, and several MMB staff members. The presentation offered an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with these key members of the governor's administration about the details of the University's request and the thought behind its various initiatives.

President Kaler offered his vision on the budget request, emphasizing the critical role the University plays in the health and vitality of Minnesota. He explained how each component of the request builds on University strengths. The governor’s staff will provide recommendations to the governor in late December. View the presentation.

2014 Big Ten Government and Community Relations Conference

Our office hosted the annual Big Ten Government and Community Relations Conference, October 15-17. Participants shared information on what is occurring at the community, state, and federal levels. The conference included panel discussions on issues such as the sustainability of higher education, the achievement gap, and the return on investment for states that have a research institution, as well as the hot-button issue of college athletics.

House candidates respond to UMAA survey

As it is election season, the University of Minnesota’s Alumni Association (UMAA) invited all Minnesota State House candidates to participate in a survey on higher education issues. While UMAA does not endorse candidates, the purpose of the survey is to inform University supporters of candidates’ positions on issues such as higher education funding and research. View the candidates’ responses.

October 1, 2014

Election Day is November 4

Elections for a U.S. Senate seat, the gubernatorial seat, and all 134 seats in the Minnesota House of Representatives will be held on November 4. The House is currently controlled by the DFL with a 73-61 majority; however, control of the House has swung between the two parties in the last two elections. This election again looks like it will be very close for at least 20 house seats, meaning that control of the House is very much in play. It will be an exciting election night.

Government and Community Relations will send out an update with results shortly after the election. In the following weeks, our office will focus on educating new legislators about the University of Minnesota and its priorities. The Legislature will convene again on January 6, 2015.

The Minnesota Senate is not up for reelection until 2016.

Legislative Staff Day

On Thursday, September 25, the government relations team hosted 40 federal and state legislative staffers for a full day on the Twin Cities campus to learn about teaching and research innovations. During the first half of the day, legislative staff toured the Medical Devices Center, the Visible Heart Lab, and the Academic Health Center Simulation Center. After lunch, One Stop staff presented on the services they provide students regarding registration, financial aid, billing, payment, student records, and veterans benefits. Then legislative staff learned about interactive learning and toured the active classrooms in STSS. The day capped off with a tour of TCF Bank Stadium and a visit from Goldy.

Advocacy at the Minnesota State Fair

Once again this year, staff and student volunteers teamed up to promote civic engagement at the Legislative Action Network booth in the University of Minnesota building at the State Fair. Visitors to the booth learned about the network and how to help support the University's legislative request. In total, 174 individuals signed up to become members of the Legislative Action Network, and over 50 people registered to vote.