State Relations Updates

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January 26, 2017

Governor Dayton releases biennial budget recommendations

On Tuesday, January 24, Governor Mark Dayton released his FY18-19 budget proposal to the Minnesota Legislature. The $45.8 billion two-year proposal focuses on four areas: jobs, education, government reform, and quality of life. The proposal includes funding for five of the University of Minnesota's requested budget initiatives. View a comparison of proposals.

In a press release, President Kaler said, "I am grateful for the governor's pledge to advance student success, increase access to health care across Minnesota, translate research for the state's common good, and maintain affordability for Minnesota's students and families."

The governor may revise his recommendations after the state's economic forecast is released in February. The House and Senate will release their own budget proposals in the next few months.

Legislative Kickoff Breakfast

Yesterday, January 25, over 350 University of Minnesota students, faculty, alumni, staff, and supporters attended the Legislative Kickoff Breakfast at McNamara Alumni Center. The purpose of the event was to demonstrate the importance of sharing your U of M story with legislators. Attendees wrote postcards to their elected officials, signed up for the Legislative Action Network, and shared their stories on social media.

House Higher Ed hears U of M overview presentation

On Tuesday, January 24, President Eric Kaler, Provost Karen Hanson, Senior Vice President for Finance and Budget Operation Brian Burnett, and Budget Director Julie Tonneson presented the House Higher Education Committee with an overview of the University of Minnesota. The presentation emphasized the U of M's statewide impact and vision to drive Minnesota forward. Watch the hearing video.

U of M students and faculty testify in Senate Higher Ed

On Thursday, January 19, University of Minnesota students and faculty groups were invited to testify in front of the Senate Higher Education Committee. First, Minnesota Student Association Director of Government and Legislative Affairs William Dammann testified on the role of MSA and how state higher education funding has expanded his undergraduate experiences and opportunities at the U of M.

Next, Michael Oakes, epidemiology professor in the School of Public Health, and Donna Spannaus-Martin, professor of medical laboratory sciences, spoke about the Faculty Consultative Committee and the statewide importance of their work at the University. Finally, Geoffrey Rojas, research specialist, testified on behalf of the Postdoctoral Association.

January 5, 2017

Minnesota Legislature convenes

On Tuesday, January 3, the Minnesota Legislature convened in the newly renovated State Capitol. While Republicans have won control of the House and Senate, two years remain in the term of Governor Mark Dayton (DFL), which may result in a contentious session. This year, the legislature and governor are tasked with passing a biennial budget, as well as addressing issues carried over from last session, such as a bonding bill.

Governor proposes $154.4 million in bonding for the University

Yesterday, Governor Dayton released his capital investment recommendations to the legislature, providing $154.4 million in state funding for four University of Minnesota projects. The proposal provides $55 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement; $28.3 million for the Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building; $67 million for the Health Sciences Education Center; and $4.4 million for the Plant Growth Research Facility. The proposal does not include funding for Academic and Student Experience Investments, the Pillsbury Hall Renovation, or Collections and Contemporary Learning. The governor’s project recommendations for the University match his 2016 recommendations.

President Kaler responded in a press release, “I am grateful for Governor Mark Dayton’s strong support for the University of Minnesota. By recommending investment in the University, the governor demonstrates his ongoing commitment to advancing the economic and social vitality of Minnesota.”

New Government and Community Relations website

This week, Government and Community Relations launched its new website. The website is now mobile friendly to increase accessibility from the Capitol. Legislative materials for the budget request and capital request will be added throughout the session. Please take a look at the site , and pass t he link on to your colleagues, students, and alumni.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions.

December 8, 2016

Economic budget forecast released

On Friday, December 2, Minnesota Management and Budget released the state budget forecast, a $1.4 billion budget surplus for the 2018-19 biennium. A surplus of $678 million is also forecasted in the current 2016-17 biennium, after the statutory allocation of $334 million to the budget reserve. This allocation will bring the total reserve balance to $1.9 billion. Federal policy uncertainty, inflation, and slow growth expansion could decrease the projected surplus. Legislative leaders characterized this as a "status quo" forecast.

This forecast will guide spending decisions in the 2017 legislative session. However, the February forecast may revise these numbers, and will be the final marker for budget decisions in the spring.

The University of Minnesota is requesting $147.2 million in the FY 2018-19 biennial budget, and $245.1 million for seven capital projects.

Special session discussions continue

Also on Friday, December 2, legislative leaders and the governor resumed discussions for a special legislative session before the end of the year. The special session would likely address health care costs, a tax bill pocket vetoed by the governor in late spring, and a bonding bill also considered last session but not passed by both bodies. Legislative leaders and the governor are targeting December 20 for the special session. However, only the framework has been discussed; the details have yet to be agreed upon.

State relations gears up social media for session

Over the last few weeks, @UMNGovRelations has congratulated new legislators via Twitter, providing them with infographics about the University of Minnesota's impact in their districts. Many new legislators have responded positively to the targeted messaging, which is part of a larger social media outreach strategy with state legislators.

In addition, Government Relations launched a new Twitter handle to facilitate and expand the University's advocacy efforts. The new handle, @UMNAdvocates will support state, federal, and community relations efforts through expanded social media interactions, advocacy, conversation, and outreach. Please take a moment to follow @UMNAdvocates, and like and retweet our messages throughout the legislative session.

November 10, 2016

Republicans win Minnesota Senate, expand Minnesota House majority

On Tuesday, November 8, Republicans won control of the Minnesota Legislature. In the House, Republicans retained a majority 76-57, increasing their caucus by 4 seats. One remaining seat will be determined in a special election in February. In the Senate, Republicans won 34-33, although three recounts have been called. Representative Daudt is expected to be re-elected as House Speaker. This afternoon, Senator Paul Gazelka was elected majority leader.

Below is a list of 45 new legislators and the incumbents they defeated:
House District 2A - Matthew Grossell, R (open seat)
House District 5A - Matt Bliss, R (defeated Persell)
House District 5B - Sandy Layman, R (defeated Anzelc)
House District 6A - Julie Sandstone, DFL (open seat)
House District 7B - Liz Olson, DFL (open seat)
House District 9A - John Poston, R (open seat)
House District 21A - Barb Haley, R (open seat)
House District 25B - Duane Sauke, DFL (open seat)
House District 31B - Calvin Bahr, R (open seat)
House District 37A - Erin Kegel, DFL (open seat)
House District 37B - Nolan West, R (open seat)
House District 41B - Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL (open seat)
House District 42A - Randy Jessup, R (defeated Yarusso)
House District 42B - Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL (open seat)
House District 48A - Laurie Pryor, DFL (open seat)
House District 49A - Dario Anselmo, R (defeated Erhardt)
House District 50B - Andrew Carlson, DFL (defeated C. Anderson)
House District 52B - Regina Barr, R (open seat)
House District 54A - Keith Franke, R (open seat)
House District 54B - Tony Jurgens, R (open seat)
House District 57A - Erin Maye Quade, DFL (open seat)
House District 59A - Fue Lee, DFL (open seat)
House District 60B - Ilhan Omar, DFL (open seat)
Senate District 1 - Mark Johnson, R (open seat)
Senate District 2 - Paul Utke, R (defeated Skoe)
Senate District 5 - Justin Eichorn,R (defeated Saxhaug)
Senate District 7 - Erik Simonsson, DFL (open seat)*
Senate District 14 - Jerry Relph, R (open seat)**
Senate District 15 - Andrew Mathews, R (open seat)
Senate District 17 - Andrew Lang, R (defeated Koenen)
Senate District 19 - Nick Frentz, DFL (open seat)
Senate District 20 - Rich Draheim, R (defeated Dahle)
Senate District 21 - Mike Goggin, R (defeated Schmit)
Senate District 24 - John Jasinski, R (defeated Jensen)
Senate District 32 - Mark Koran, R (open seat)
Senate District 37 - Jerry Newton, DFL (open seat)*
Senate District 41 - Carolyn Laine, DFL (open seat)*
Senate District 42 - Jason Isaacson, DFL (open seat)*
Senate District 44 - Paul Anderson, R (open seat)**
Senate District 47 - Scott Jensen, R (open seat)
Senate District 48 - Steve Cwodzinski, DFL (defeated Hann)
Senate District 52 - Matt Klein, DFL (open seat)
Senate District 54 - Dan Schoen, DFL (open seat)*
Senate District 58 - Matt Little, DFL (open seat)**
*former state representative
** recount

The state relations team plans to meet with the new legislators in the upcoming months to discuss the University's mission, legislative priorities, and ongoing partnership with the state. The 2017 legislative session begins on Tuesday, January 3.

September 19, 2016

President Kaler meets with House leaders

This month, University of Minnesota Eric President Kaler met with House Speaker Kurt Daudt and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen. At both meetings, President Kaler discussed the U of M's legislative priorities, as well as the need for a special legislative session to pass a bonding bill.

Legislative staff visits Rochester campus

On Thursday, September 15, Minnesota House and Senate staff traveled to Rochester to learn more about the University of Minnesota Rochester. Chancellor Lehmkuhle provided a tour and overview of the campus. Then students from the Health CORE Program joined the legislative staff for lunch. The students talked about why they choose to study health sciences at UMR. After lunch, staff learned about the partnerships between the U of M and Mayo Clinic in the areas of genomics and regenerative medicine.

Legislative advocacy at the State Fair

The Office of Government and Community Relations maintained a significant presence at the State Fair again this year, promoting the importance of joining the University of Minnesota's legislative advocacy program. Approximately 1,000 fair attendees signed up to become advocates of the Legislative Action Network. Register to become an advocate.

2016 Voting Guide

The University of Minnesota is committed to ensuring that faculty, staff, and students have timely, accurate information about voting. To that end, the Office of Government and Community Relations is coordinating University voter education communications and outreach. For more information about the U of M's efforts to encourage students, faculty, and staff to vote, please take a look at our Voting Guide.

August 19, 2016

No special session

After several months of negotiations between Governor Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Governor Dayton has decided he will not call the legislature back for a special session. The leaders could not come to an agreement on a bonding bill, transportation bill, and tax bill.

Kaler visits with legislators at county fairs

Over the past week, President Kaler and state relations staff traveled to the Dakota, Steele, and McLeod county fairs. At the Dakota County Fair, President Kaler spoke with Representative Pat Garofalo, Senator Jim Carlson, and Senator Greg Clausen about the University's statewide presence. He also addressed attendees at the fair's 4-H 100 year celebration dinner. At the Steele County Fair, President Kaler spoke with Representative Jeanne Poppe, Representative Brian Daniels, Senator Dan Sparks, and Senator Vicki Jensen. At the McLeod County Fair, President Kaler met with Representative Glenn Gruenhagen and Representative Dean Urdahl.

Incumbents defeated in primary elections

Tuesday, August 11 was Primary Election Day in Minnesota. Several state legislators faced challengers and four lost their primary re-elections:

  • Representative Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) was defeated by Ilhan Omar
  • Representative Joe Mullery (DFL-Minneapolis) was defeated by Fue Lee
  • Representative Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) was defeated by Cal Bahr
  • Senator Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) was defeated by Mark Koran

These results increase the number of open seats to be voted on in November - 18 in the House and 14 in the Senate.

August 5, 2016

Kaler visits with agriculture leaders, legislators, and students at Farmfest

This week, President Kaler and state relations staff traveled to Morgan, Minnesota, for Farmfest, an annual event devoted to Minnesota agriculture and innovation. President Kaler spoke with University students, local legislators, agricultural leaders, and regional media about the U's commitment to Greater Minnesota, agriculture, and innovation. The president also announced the University's new investment in the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer Program (AGREETT).

July 7, 2016

CFANS faculty present to Legislative Water Commission

Today, Thursday, July 7, the Legislative Water Commission, which consists of 12 legislators, met at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus to learn about six research projects in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. Afterwards, a panel discussed new strategies for farmers and opportunities for state investment in water and agriculture. The commission also toured the University's Forever Green research fields.

June 24, 2016

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.