On March 8, 2016, the Minnesota Legislature convened for a historically short legislative session. In part due to the State Capitol renovations, the Republican-led House and DFL-led Senate had only 10 weeks to tackle their priorities. In even-numbered years of the biennium, the legislature typically focuses on crafting a bonding bill. This year, the legislature also considered whether to spend a projected state budget surplus of $900 million.
The legislature and Governor Dayton were unable to reach a compromise on a bonding bill before the constitutionally mandated end of session on May 23. However, lawmakers passed a $182 million supplemental budget bill that the governor signed into law. Legislative leadership and the governor continue to meet to discuss a potential special session.
This session, Minnesota legislators introduced 3,068 bills and passed 109 of these bills onto the governor. The governor signed all but two of these bills into law. The University of Minnesota's Office of Government and Community Relations tracked over 500 bills relevant to the University. This marks the end of the legislative biennium; all bills that did not pass are no longer active. The 2017 regular legislative session is set to begin on January 3, 2017; although, the governor can call a special session at any time.
Read the 2016 State Relations Session Summary
Special session remains uncertain
On Tuesday, June 14, the conference committee on H.F. 622, the bonding bill passed by the House in the final hours of session, met to review the bill and hear testimony from state agencies and the University of Minnesota. President Kaler thanked the committee for the University funding provided in H.F. 622: $50 million for HEAPR, $27.2 million for the Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building, and $4.4 million for the Plant Growth Research Facility. He also testified in support of the Health Sciences Education Facility project, saying, "A new Health Sciences Education Facility presents Minnesota with an extraordinary opportunity to educate our students for new models of health care focused on access and affordability, teamwork and quality." View a comparison of the 2016 regular legislative session bonding bill proposals.
A special session and bonding bill remain uncertain, as the Governor and legislative leaders have yet to find a compromise on a number of issues.
Governor Dayton visits Duluth campus to promote bonding bill
This morning, Governor Dayton held a press conference at the University of Minnesota's Duluth campus to urge legislators to agree on a special session agenda that includes a bonding bill. He emphasized the need for capital investment in higher education, highlighting the Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science (CAMS) building project. The shovel-ready CAMS project is seeking $27 million in legislative funding and will positively impact student enrollment, STEM programs, and local economic needs.
Today's press conference is part of a series of media events that the governor has held across Minnesota this week relating to the end of the legislative session. At this time, no agreements for a special session have been made.
Governor Dayton announces stipulations for possible special session
This afternoon, at a press conference, Governor Dayton presented a letter addressed to legislative leadership. The letter contains a list of requirements that the legislature must agree to in order for him to call a special session. The list includes $66.7 million in bonding for the University of Minnesota's requested Health Sciences Education Facility, as well as $10.5 million in FY17 and $21 million in FY18-19 in supplemental budget funding for the University's Health Training Restoration initiative.
As you may recall, the legislature did not pass a bonding bill this year, and a special session is required to fund any bonding projects.
Governor Dayton signs supplemental budget bill
Also today, Governor Dayton signed the supplemental budget bill, which includes $2.6 million for the University's Mining Innovation Minnesota initiative and $800,000 ongoing for the Health Training Restoration initiative.
The bill also contains policy and funding for the following University programs:
View a final comparison of the 2016 regular legislative session supplemental budget proposals.
Mining Innovation Minnesota funding in LCCMR bill line-item vetoed
On Tuesday, May 31, Governor Dayton line-item vetoed seven projects in the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) bill, including $1.1 million for the University's Mining Innovation Minnesota initiative. In his letter to the legislature, the governor stated he did not oppose these seven projects, but that he vetoed them because they did not go through the LCCMR annual approval process.