2013 State Relations Session Summary

With new majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate following the 2012 November elections, the DFL focused its 2013 legislative priorities on all levels of education, making the legislative session a very active one for higher education and, specifically, the University of Minnesota. The Legislature held a number of hearings focused on University budget and operational matters. The hearings produced positive results for University students, faculty, and staff, given the new sources of revenue that were used to fill the budget shortfall and reverse years of limited new investment in higher education.

The Office of Government and Community Relations tracked many pieces of legislation with potential impacts to the University as they made their way through the committee process, with several becoming state law. In summary, however, the 2013 legislative session will be remembered for reversing state disinvestment during the last six years and providing needed resources to make higher education more accessible and affordable for resident undergraduate students.

Biennial budget request

The University of Minnesota requested $91.6 million in increased state funding for the 2014-15 biennium. This request included $42.6 million for a tuition freeze at the 2012-13 academic year rate for resident undergraduates during their 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. It also included $36 million for the Minnesota Discovery Research InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) funding program, which aims to advance Minnesota's economy, prioritize the state's comparative advantages, and further the well-being of Minnesotans through investments in scientific research. The request also included $1.5 million for a loan forgiveness program that would be available for health graduates who agree to serve in an underserved area of the state, as well as $11.5 million for an accountability fund used to award the University for meeting performance goals that benefit the state.

University presentations
University biennial budget request presentations began in January, when President Kaler held a press conference at the Capitol and outlined the budget request. In February, President Kaler presented the proposal to the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee. In March, he presented the proposal to the House Higher Education Committee.

Recommendations from the governor, House, and Senate
The House, Senate, and governor released their budget targets in March. Unlike recent years, state leaders recommended spending increases to higher education. Specifically, the House recommended $150 million, the Senate recommended $262 million, and the governor recommended $253 million. The governor proposed $80 million for the University, including $42.6 million for a tuition freeze, $36 million for MnDRIVE, and $1.4 million for the health professional loan forgiveness program.

In April, the House and Senate higher education committees released their higher education omnibus bills, which detailed University funding amounts. The House bill provided $60.6 million for the University, including $42.6 million for a tuition freeze and $18 million for MnDRIVE. The Senate bill was similar to the governor's proposal. It provided $79.8 for the University, including $42.6 for a tuition freeze, $36 million for MnDRIVE, and $1.2 million for the health professional loan forgiveness program.

In the higher education conference committee, the Senate and House conferees agreed to appropriate $42.6 million for the tuition freeze and $35.65 million for MnDRIVE. No funding was provided for an accountability fund or a health professional loan forgiveness program. The bill was signed into law by Governor Dayton on May 24, 2013.

Capital request

The University requested $172.7 million for capital investment projects during the 2013 session. This capital request included $125 million in Higher Education Asset Prevention and Replacement (HEAPR) funds, $9.7 million for renovating Eddy Hall, $12 million for a Crookston campus wellness center, $8 million for the Active Learning Classroom Fund, $8 million for the Research Laboratory Improvement Fund, $4 million for St. Paul campus laboratory replacement design, and $6 million for Tate Laboratory renovation design.

University presentations
In late January, Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock presented the University's 2013 capital request to the House Capital Investment Committee. She outlined the seven aforementioned request items, which were previously approved by the University's Board of Regents.

Recommendations from the governor, House, and Senate
Traditionally, large capital investment bills are passed in even numbered years at the State Capitol, as odd numbered years are focused on balancing the state's budget. Nonetheless, in early April, the House and governor released capital investment proposals. The governor proposed $71.7 million for the University: $15 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) projects systemwide and $56.7 million to fully renovate Tate Physics Laboratory. (The University request only included $6 million in state funding for the design of this renovation.) The House proposal included $55.7 million for projects requested by the University. These included HEAPR, Eddy Hall renovation, St. Paul campus laboratory replacement design, Tate Laboratory renovation design, and the Research Laboratory Improvement Fund. The House proposal also provided $47 million for the Bell Museum.

The $800 million House capital investment bill, which included funding for the University, failed to pass the House, falling 5 votes short of the necessary 81 votes. The Senate passed a much smaller capital investment bill that focused on the State Capitol restoration and flood mitigation. This passed the House and was signed into law. No higher education requests, including the University's projects, were funded by the Legislature this session.

Legislation impacting the University

This session, Government Relations tracked 203 bills that could have potentially impacted the University. Of the 145 bills the governor signed into law this year, 58 could impact the University.

Higher education omnibus bill (S.F. 1236/H.F. 1692)

This law appropriates $1.17 billion to the University of Minnesota in FY2014-15, including the tuition freeze and MnDRIVE appropriations mentioned previously.

Operations and Maintenance
The total operations and maintenance appropriation for the University is $1.045 billion. The performance-based funding provisions proposed by the Senate were also adopted. The provision states that 5% of the operations and maintenance appropriations for FY2015 will become available when the Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner certifies that the University has met three out of five of the following goals:

  • Increase by at least 1% the Twin Cities campus undergraduate four-year, five-year, or six-year graduation rates averaged over three years, for low-income students reported in fall 2014 over fall 2012. The average rate for fall 2012 is calculated with the fall 2010, 2011, and 2012 graduation rates.
  • Increase by at least 3% the total number of undergraduate STEM degrees, averaged over three years, conferred by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus reported in FY2014 over FY2012. The averaged number for fall 2012 is calculated with the fall 2010, 2011, and 2012 graduation rates.
  • Increase by at least 1% the four-year, five-year, or six-year graduation rates, averaged over three years, at the University reported in fall 2014 over fall 2012. The average rate for fall 2012 is calculated with the fall 2010, 2011, and 2012 graduation rates.
  • For FY2014, decrease administrative costs by $15 million.
  • Increase invention disclosures by 3% for FY2014 over FY2013 (net of student disclosures).

Hennepin County Medical Center
The law appropriates just less than $1.3 million to the Hennepin County Medical Center for its graduate Family Medicine Residency Program by establishing a pass-through grant from the Office of Higher Education. In effect, this reduces the University's operations and maintenance appropriation by $645,000 per year.

State Grant Program
The new law appropriates nearly $356 million, an increase of $46 million, for the program. The law reduces the assigned family responsibility (AFR) for independent students without dependents from 68% down to 50%, and it increases the assigned student responsibility (ASR) from 46% to 50%. In FY2015, the four-year program tuition maximum for grant awards will increase to $13,000, and the two-year program tuition maximum will increase to $5,808. The living and miscellaneous expense allowance for the state grant program will increase to $7,900 for each fiscal year of the biennium.

MnLINK Gateway and Minitex
The law includes $11.8 million for MnLINK gateway and Minitex library services. MnLINK Gateway is a statewide virtual library that grants access to Minnesota's library resources. Minitex encompasses MnLINK and is an information and resource sharing program of the University Libraries and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

Primary Education Initiatives
The law provides $4.3 million in primary care education initiatives at the University of Minnesota. This maintains the current state funding level for these programs.

Agriculture and Extension Service
The law includes approximately $86 million for University agriculture education and Extension services. It includes funding for renewable energy research, as well as funding for the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences to establish and provide leadership in organic agronomic, horticultural, livestock, and food systems research, education, and outreach, and to purchase a state-of-the-art laboratory and research equipment. This maintains the current state appropriation level for these programs.

Health Sciences
The law appropriates approximately $9.7 million for health sciences at the University, which includes the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, the Biomedical Engineering Center, dental care, and other health sciences research. This maintains the current state funding level for these programs. Of this appropriation, $692,000 is dedicated to support up to 12 resident physicians in the St. Cloud Hospital family practice residency program.

College of Science and Engineering 
The law provides approximately $2.28 million to the University's College of Science and Engineering to fund the geological survey and the talented young mathematicians program. This maintains the current state funding level for these programs.

System Special 
The law appropriates $10.36 million in University system special appropriations, including funding for general research, industrial relations education (Labor Education Service), the Natural Resources Research Institute, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, the Bell Museum of Natural History, and the Humphrey Exhibit. Of this amount, $250,000 is added to the Labor Education Service over the biennium.

University of Minnesota and Mayo Foundation Partnership
The law appropriates just less than $15 million for the partnership between the University and the Mayo Foundation for research in medical genomics and biotechnology, and the partnership must submit an annual report of how the appropriation is used.

Academic Health Center
The law determines the share the Academic Health Center will receive of revenue generated from tobacco taxes. The share is estimated at $22.3 million each fiscal year. The same determination was made in both the House and Senate bills.

Reports to the Legislature
The law asks the University to submit three reports in 2013:

  • A report on the Medical School's capacity that includes the number of applicants seeking admissions to the school for the academic term commencing in fall 2013 and how many applicants were admitted, the number of applicants admitted to the school for each fall term between 2000 and 2012, the number of graduates projected for the next ten years, the number of graduates expected to remain and practice in Minnesota, and the plans of the University to increase the capacity of the school.
  • A report on undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs on the Twin Cities campus that includes the numbers of applicants seeking admission to those programs for the fall 2013 academic term and the number of applicants admitted, the percentage (both historically and projected into the future) of students that graduate from the programs who remain in the state, and the University's plans to expand the capacity of its STEM programs on the Twin Cities campus.
  • A report on University administrative costs that includes the "spans and layers" and administrative services benchmarking studies that are currently under way by Sibson Consulting and Huron Consulting, respectively.

Mental Health Issues Summit
The law calls for MnSCU, in cooperation with the Minnesota commissioner of human services, to convene a summit that includes representatives from the University to develop a workforce plan to increase the number of mental health professionals, ensure appropriate coursework and training experience, and increase the number of culturally diverse mental health practitioners.

Veterans Preference
The law encourages the University to recognize courses and award educational credits for courses that were part of a veteran's military training or service if these courses meet equivalent standards. The University is also encouraged to adopt a policy recognizing veteran status as a positive factor in determining whether to grant veterans admission to an undergraduate, graduate, or professional academic degree program.

The Dream Act
In mid-March, the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee heard a bill called the Path to Prosperity Act (also called the Dream Act), which grants resident tuition and state aid eligibility to undocumented students. At the March 14 Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee hearing, Louis Mendoza, chair of the University's Chicano Studies Department, testified in favor of the legislation.

Health and human services omnibus bill (S.F. 1034 /H.F. 1233)

While the health and human services budget area was the only spending category to realize a reduction in projected general fund spending, the legislature funded efforts to expand access to services, which will benefit University programs. First, there was an increase in the Medical Education and Research Cost (MERC) appropriation. The increase of $12.8 million restored the level of funding for MERC at 2010 levels. The purpose of the MERC fund is to compensate hospitals and clinics for a portion of the costs of clinical training. Second, there is the change in state policy to allow Medicaid (MA) reimbursement for both medical and mental health encounters that occur on the same day. This law will provide for more continuity of care for Community University Health Care Center clients. Third, the law allows city-owned clinics to qualify as for the Critical Access Dental (CAD) Program. The intent of this change is to ensure the eligibility of Rice Regional Dental Clinic, which is in partnership with the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, in this program. Lastly, along with a 5% rate increase for mental health services, the Legislature made investments in school based mental health services as well as family based mental health specialists.

Environment, natural resources, and agriculture omnibus bill (H.F. 976)

Pesticide regulatory account
The law appropriates $100,000 each year of the biennium from the pesticide regulatory account to monitor pesticides and pesticide degradates in areas vulnerable to surface water impairment and groundwater degradation for the purposes of improving pesticide practices.

Pesticide education and training
The law calls for the development and implementation of educational and training programs addressing pesticide concerns, including water quality protection and proper pesticide disposal. The commissioner of agriculture will work in consultation with University of Minnesota Extension and other higher education institutions in the development and implementation of these programs. The bill also calls for the commissioner to work in consultation with Extension and other higher education institutions on developing and revising pesticide applicator training manuals and examinations that meet or exceed the minimum standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pollinator report
The omnibus bill mandates that a pollinator report be submitted by January 15, 2014, outlining a proposal to establish a pollinator reserve bank for preserving pollinators, a proposal to enhance pollinator nesting and foraging habitats, and criteria for a report that the commissioner of agriculture would use to evaluate neonicotinoid pesticides.

State forest nurseries
For the first year of the biennium, the agriculture bill appropriates $50,000 for a Department of Forest Resources study on properly utilizing state forest nurseries to maximize conservation and forest resource resilience. This study is to be done in consultation with the University of Minnesota.

Silica sand technical assistance team
The agriculture bill calls for the creation of a silica sand technical assistance team to provide local governments, at their request, with assistance regarding ordinance development, zoning, environmental review and permitting, and other issues relating to silica sand mining. This team may include representatives from the University of Minnesota.

Underage consumption (S.F. 744 /H.F. 946)

This bill, brought forward by students groups from the University and MnSCU, allows a person under age 21 who consumes or possesses an alcoholic beverage to not be subject to prosecution if the person contacts a 911 operator to report that the person or another person is in need of medical assistance for an immediate health or safety concern, provided that the person who initiates contact is the first person to make a report, provides a name and contact information, remains on the scene until assistance arrives, and cooperates with the authorities at the scene. The person receiving medical attention would also not be charged with underage drinking. In March, the University of Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition and the undergraduate Student Body President Taylor Williams testified in favor of medical amnesty legislation before the House Public Safety Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Legacy omnibus bill (S.F. 1051 /H.F. 1183)

This law provides appropriations for five different programs and research initiatives at the University of Minnesota as described below.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 
The legacy bill appropriates $1 million in the first year of the biennium to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to acquire land in fee surrounding Lake Tamarack in Carver County. The University is expected to provide a description of the acquired land as part of its required accomplishment plan.

Regional irrigation water quality specialist
For each year of the biennium, the legacy bill provides $110,000 for a regional irrigation water quality specialist through the University of Minnesota Extension.

Wastewater treatment system designs
Included in the legacy bill's appropriations for wastewater treatment system designs is $145,000 each year of the biennium for the University to provide ongoing support and scientific expertise for wastewater treatment design teams. These design teams will include representatives from the University and Minnesota's Pollution Control Agency.

Geologic Atlases 
For each year of the biennium, the omnibus legacy bill appropriates $615,000 to the University for developing county geologic atlases.

Center for Changing Landscapes
For the first year of the biennium, the legacy bill appropriates $250,000 to the University's Center for Changing Landscapes to update the long-range inventory and framework for an integrate statewide parks and trails network that provides information on the natural resource-based recreational opportunities in Minnesota. This framework will include data from the new census and from a regional parks and trails study authorized by the 2011 legislature.

Geospatial Information Office provisional changes (S.F. 1298 /H.F. 1390)

This law eliminates the discretionary powers of the Geospatial Information Office to enter into contracts with educational institutions, such as the University of Minnesota.

Jobs, housing, commerce, and energy omnibus bill (S.F. 1057 /H.F. 729)

This law appropriates $425,000 each year of the biennium to the Minnesota High Tech Association to support SciTechsperience, a program supporting STEM internship opportunities for two- and four-year college and university students.

Transportation omnibus bill (S.F. 1173/H.F. 1444)

For the first year of the biennium, the law provides $75,000 from the Highway User Tax Distribution fund to the University's Humphrey School of Public Affairs for the Workplace Telework program congestion relief efforts, including website tools and content maintenance. The law also requires that .1%, up to $2 million, of all non-state-aid funds appropriated to Minnesota's transportation commissioner be used for the University's Center for Transportation Studies for research and related activities.

Additional University legislative committee presentations

In addition to the capital request and biennial budget presentations, University of Minnesota representatives gave ten additional legislative committee presentations.

University Finances
In late January and early February, University Vice President and CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter gave five presentations on University Finances before the House Higher Education Committee. Vice President Pfutzenreuter's presentations covered a variety of financial topics, including the University's budget process, tuition rates, student fees, unexpected funds, and liquidity.

Administrative Cost Report
In response to media reports on University administrative spending, leaders in the Senate requested an administrative cost report of the University of Minnesota. In mid-March, President Kaler presented the preliminary "spans and layers" report and cost-benchmarking methods to the House and Senate higher education committees. He also highlighted the success of operational excellence efforts that were already under way.

Fairview and the Academic Health Center
In April, Dr. Aaron Friedman and Dr. Bobbi Daniels testified before the House Commerce Committee during a hearing regarding the current and future ownership of the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Dr. Friedman and Dr. Daniels discussed the relationship structure between the University of Minnesota and Fairview, and the role of the University of Minnesota Physicians in that relationship.

Fiscal notes

Fiscal notes are requested by legislators to help them understand the fiscal implications of legislation. A fiscal note estimates the costs, savings, revenue gain, or loss resulting from the implementation of proposed legislation. Throughout the 2013 legislative session, a total of 27 fiscal notes were requested of the University.

Mandated reports

Each year, the Legislature mandates reports and studies from different government and public agencies. Often, mandated reports are requested of agencies and programs funded by state appropriations. The University submitted five mandated reports during the legislative session. New laws from the 2013 legislative session require a total of ten direct mandated reports from the University of Minnesota.

Communications and events

Capitol meetings
The University continued a strong program of one-on-one meetings between legislators and University representatives. The president, vice presidents, deans, and regents spent considerable time meeting with legislators to push for favorable legislation for the University. Meeting topics included our 2014-15 budget request; administrative costs; invasive species; IREE; capital request; admissions policy; animal use in research; Decade of Discovery; liquor sales legislation; medical education costs; open text book, and more. The Government and Community Relations team held over 150 meetings with legislators throughout the session.

Eastcliff receptions
At the beginning of the legislative session, President and Mrs. Kaler hosted three different receptions at Eastcliff for members of House committees on agriculture, health care, and higher education. Many new House members and some veteran members took advantage of these opportunities to have more relaxed conversations with the University's senior leadership on topics of concern at the Legislature, including the U's budget and capital requests.

In January, Government Relations hosted 13 state senators on a tour of the new cancer and cardiovascular research building. They heard from Dr. Friedman and Dr. Vickers regarding the importance of the Biomedical Discovery District and its potential impact on the state and nation. Dr. Friedman provided an overview of the Academic Health Center, and Dr. Vickers shared his emerging research in pancreatic cancer treatments. The senators also took part in an active learning classroom experience led by Dr. Robin Wright, associate dean for the College of Biological Sciences. After the tour, the senators attended a reception at Eastcliff with U senior leaders.

In July 2012, Government Relations created a Twitter account (@UMNgovrelations) with three goals: to educate policymakers, the media, and the public about University activities; to increase support for the University at the Capitol and in Washington, DC; and to increase visibility of advocacy efforts among policymakers. During the 2013 legislative session, @UMNgovrelations sent 268 tweets at an average of approximately 14 tweets per week. The hashtags most used were #mnleg and #UMN. Seven events and committee hearings were live-tweeted, and over 70 University-specific news articles were tweeted. Those tweets were both favorited and retweeted by legislators and the media; one tweet was quoted in a news story on state statute. At of the end of the 2013 legislative session, approximately 124 state legislators had Twitter accounts. Approximately 20% of those legislators have become followers of @UMNgovrelations.

State relations updates
This session, Government Relations released 16 State Relations Updates via email to engage University Staff and Faculty in the legislative process and to provide details of the status of key legislation concerning the University. Those updates were also posted on the Government Relations website.

Legislative Briefing
The annual Legislative Briefing was a huge success. The event was held on Wednesday evening, January 23, and nearly 450 people attended. Guests included members of the Board of Regents, the UMAA board chair, board members (past and current), faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and community members. President Kaler presented the U's legislative request for the 2013 session, and he encouraged those attending to communicate their support of the U and its budget request to their legislators. During his remarks, the president shared a wonderful story of a pharmacy student and how the U's loan forgiveness proposal would help her realize her dream to bring health care to those who need it most.

Support the U Day
Hundreds of students from all five campuses, along with the Board of Regents, President Kaler, staff, and alumni, attended Support the U Day, February 7, at the Capitol. Organized by the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition, event participants urged support for the U's proposed two-year tuition freeze. Rally speakers included Director Larry Pogemiller, Senator Terri Bonoff, Representative Gene Pelowski, and Representative Phyllis Kahn.

Calls to action
Three separate calls-to-action were issued to the University's group of legislative advocates during the 2013 session. Communications asked network members to engage with their elected officials and send a message in support of the University's legislative priorities. A total of 671 activists responded to the action alerts, and 949 messages were sent to elected officials.

Legislative Network
The University's group of legislative advocates reached 23,000 people this session. The group comprises active alumni, faculty, staff, students, and community members that engage with their elected through the Support the U website or have attended events, shared their stories showcasing their U support, written letters to elected officials, or participated in other advocacy efforts.

View all of the State Relations Updates from the 2013 Minnesota Legislative Session.