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May 17, 2017

Governor vetoes higher education finance conference report; negotiations continue

On Monday, May 15, Governor Dayton vetoed the higher education conference report passed by both the House and Senate earlier that day. Read his veto message.

After negotiations between the governor and legislative leadership broke down late last week, the legislature passed each of its omnibus finance bills separately and sent them to the governor for consideration. The governor subsequently vetoed each of these bills, including the higher education bill. The parties have since continued their negotiations. The constitutional adjournment date is midnight on May 22. If a budget is not agreed to by then, a special session is necessary before July 1 to avoid a partial government shutdown.  

The legislature's vetoed conference report appropriated $18.67 million to the University of Minnesota. The governor, however, recommended $96.8 million. View a comparison of the budget proposals.

House revises bonding proposal; adds UMD chemistry project

Yesterday, May 16, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a revised bonding bill that includes $58.3 million for the University of Minnesota: $30 million for HEAPR and $28.3 million for the Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building on the Duluth campus. The chemistry building project was added in the committee as part of a larger amendment raising the total cost of the bill from $600m to $800m in general obligation bonds.  

The bill (HF 892) now moves to the full House for consideration. The Senate has also advanced a bonding bill to the full Senate floor (SF 210), where it awaits further action. If a bonding bill is to materialize this session, it will likely be as part of a larger budget deal between the governor and legislature.  

View a comparison of the bonding proposals.

May 2, 2017

Higher ed conference committee proposes $18.67 million for U of M

On Monday, May 1, the higher education conference committee announced its budget agreement. The conference committee proposed $18.67 million in new state funding for the University of Minnesota in FY18-19. The proposal includes funding for three requested University initiatives, all recurring for the biennium:

  • MnDRIVE - $2 million
  • NRRI - $2 million
  • Health Training and Services - $14 million  

The proposal contains funding for two non-requested items: $50,000 for a program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and $1 million for tuition payment assistance on the Morris campus. The proposal also reduces the base adjustment funding for the Bell Museum by $376,000. 

President Kaler released a statement on the conference committee's proposal, stating, "This decision jeopardizes the University's impact across Minnesota and is disappointing not for the University, but for the entire state."

View a comparison of the U of M's budget request and current proposals. 

The conference committee approved the bill language and financial figures, but it did not formally close the conference committee and send the bill to the House and Senate floors for passage. Further, the governor was not involved with these final negotiations by the legislature, and the legislature and governor have not agreed on joint funding targets. As a result, the conference committee may choose to send this bill to the floors for passage and on to the governor for a possible veto, or they may keep the bill "open" to negotiate final language with the governor.  

Senate committees hold joint HEAPR hearing

Also on Monday, May 1, Senate Capital Investment and the Senate Higher Education Committee held a joint hearing on Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funding. President Eric Kaler presented an overview of the University's HEAPR request and emphasized that HEAPR is the U of M's number one priority for capital investment funding. Interim Vice President for University Services Mike Berthelsen illustrated specific HEAPR projects in critical need of funding. The joint committee also requested a brief overview of the University's full 2017 Capital Request.

House proposes $30 million for U of M HEAPR projects

Additionally, on Monday, May 1, the House Capital Investment Committee unveiled a $600 million general obligation bonding bill, with over 1/3 of this amount dedicated to transportation projects. Included in the bill is $30 million for University of Minnesota HEAPR projects, and only $62.4 million in general obligation bonds for higher education overall (U of M and Minnesota State).  The House did not include any additional funding for U of M priority projects.   

The committee will process the bill tomorrow, and receive public testimony.  The Senate, by comparison, has a bonding bill awaiting floor action that includes over $81 million for the University, and the governor recommended $154.4 million for the "U."

View a comparison of the U of M's capital request and proposals. 

April 28, 2017

Legislature announces joint budget targets

This morning, legislative leadership announced its joint budget targets for its omnibus budget bills. The agreement includes $125 million in new spending for higher education, a compromise between the House and Senate positions. In March, the House originally proposed $149 million and the Senate $100 million for higher education. 

Although the House and Senate have agreed upon budget targets, the legislature still must negotiate an agreement with the governor. Legislative leadership intends to negotiate with the governor before passing its omnibus budget bills out of conference committees, in order to avoid vetoes. 

The higher education committee is expected to announce its budget provisions on Monday, reflecting the $125 million budget target announced today. View a comparison of the budget proposals. The legislature must complete its work by midnight on May 22

U of M leaders testify in higher ed conference committee

On Tuesday, April 25, the higher education conference committee heard testimony on S.F. 2214, the higher ed omnibus conference bill. University of Minnesota Rochester chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle testified in support of increased funding for the U of M, citing the University's statewide impact and its critical partnership with the state. Chancellor Lehmkuhle also testified in opposition to provisions on class rank admissions and prohibition of mandatory student fees. 

Next, Dr. Colin Campbell, associate professor and Faculty Consultative Committee chair, echoed concerns about the impact proposed funding levels would have on faculty and the University's competitiveness. Finally, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster and Associate Vice President and Budget Director Julie Tonneson addressed legislators' questions relating to admissions requirements and funding.

Higher education conference committee agrees to policy language changes

On Thursday, April 27, the conference committee met again to reconcile differences between House and Senate policy provisions. The committee voted to adopt the following policy provisions specific to the University of Minnesota:

  • Request the U of M to prohibit mandatory student fees, with exceptions for administrative, academic, and health purposes, and penalize mandatory student fees with a state appropriation deduction
  • Request the U of M to align tuition rates to the middle of the Big Ten for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Request the Morris campus to create programs for the 2018-19 academic year for students with academic and developmental disabilities 
  • Request a plan to increase outreach and recruitment of Greater Minnesota students at the Twin Cities campus
  • Require an annual report on the University's use of human fetal tissue in research, and request the legislative auditor to audit the University's use of human fetal tissue
  • Request fiscal balance in collective bargaining negotiations
  • Clarify the statute on teaching or conducting research related to the practice of psychology
  • Require additional reporting requirements in biennial budget proposals 
  • Reduce base appropriation supporting bonds for the construction of the Bell Museum, resulting in a $188k/year reduction in operating expenses

#Driven4MN trends on Twitter

On Monday, April 24, the University of Minnesota launched a legislative advocacy day on Twitter. Students, alumni, staff, and other advocates across the state urged legislators to support the U of M's budget requests. Advocates sent 1,138 tweets with the hashtag #Driven4MN, which trended all day locally. Additionally, 20% of legislators on Twitter received direct tweets from constituents in support of the U of M. View the tweets.

April 24, 2017

Higher ed conference committee meets

 On Wednesday, April 19, the higher education conference committee met for the first time to compare the House and Senate versions of the bill. President Kaler released a statement calling on the legislature to invest in the University of Minnesota's shared prosperity with the state.  

On Friday, April 21, President Kaler sent a letter to the committee chairs outlining the University of Minnesota's positions on the bills. The conference committee will continue to meet this week to review the provisions in both versions of the bill. However, legislative budget targets have not yet been agreed upon, so little action can take place to reconcile differences between bill versions.

Support the U today on Twitter

Today, advocates across Minnesota are voicing their support for the University of Minnesota on Twitter using the hashtags #mnleg and #Driven4MN. The purpose of this social media blitz is to amplify the U's impact across the state. Join the conversation

April 18, 2017

Conference committee members announced

Today, the legislature returned from spring break and announced conference committee members for its omnibus budget bills. Conference committees will begin meeting right away to review the differences between the House and Senate bills. However, conference committee budget targets have not been set, so little action can take place until those numbers are agreed upon.

For more information on conferees or omnibus bills, please contact Government and Community Relations. Hometowns of higher education conferees are included below. All members are Republicans unless otherwise noted.

Higher Education - Senate File 2214

  • House Chair Bud Nornes (Fergus Falls)
  • Representative Drew Christensen (Savage)
  • Representative Brian Daniels (Faribault)
  • Representative Abigail Whelan  (Ramsey)
  • Representative Ilhan Omar (DFL - Minneapolis)
  • Senate Chair Michelle Fischbach (Paynesville)
  • Senator Rich Draheim (Madison Lake)
  • Senator Paul Anderson (Plymouth)
  • Senator Scott Jensen (Chaska)
  • Senator Greg Clausen (DFL - Apple Valley)

Agriculture - Senate File 780 

  • House Chair Rod Hamilton 
  • Representative Paul Anderson 
  • Representative Dale Lueck 
  • Representative Jeff Backer
  • Representative Jeanne Poppe (DFL)
  • Senate Chair Torrey Westrom 
  • Senator Bill Weber 
  • Senator Michael Goggin 
  • Senator Andrew Lang
  • Senator Kent Eken (DFL)

Health and Human Services - Senate File 800

  • House Chair Matt Dean
  • Representative Joe Schomacker 
  • Representative Tony Albright 
  • Representative Debra Kiel 
  • Representative Jennifer Schultz (DFL)
  • Senate Chair Michelle Benson 
  • Senator Jim Abeler 
  • Senator Tony Lourey (DFL)
  • Senator Karin Housley 
  • Senator Paul Utke

Taxes - House File 4 

  • House Chair Greg Davids
  • Representative Steve Drazkowski
  • Representative Joe McDonald
  • Representative Jerry Hertaus
  • Representative Paul Marquart (DFL)
  • Senate Chair Roger Chamberlain
  • Senator Gary Dahms
  • Senator Jeremy Miller
  • Senator David Senjem
  • Senator Ann Rest (DFL)

Transportation - House File 861 

  • House Chair Paul Torkelson 
  • Representative Linda Runbeck 
  • Representative John Petersburg
  • Representative Jon Koznick 
  • Representative Jeff Howe 
  • Senate Chair Scott Newman 
  • Senator John Jasinski 
  • Senator Mary Kiffmeyer 
  • Senator David Osmek 
  • Senator Dan Sparks (DFL)

Environment - House File 888  

  • House Chair Dan Fabian
  • Representative Josh Heintzeman
  • Representative Chris Swedzinski
  • Representative Jim Newberger
  • Representative Rob Ecklund (DFL)
  • Senate Chair Bill Ingebrigtsen
  • Senator Carrie Ruud
  • Senator Torrey Westrom
  • Senator Andrew Mathews 
  • Senator David Tomassoni (DFL)

Education Finance - House File 890  

  • House Chair Jennifer Loon 
  • Representative Sondra Erickson 
  • Representative Peggy Bennett 
  • Representative Ron Kresha 
  • Representative Mary Murphy (DFL)
  • Senate Chair Carla Nelson 
  • Senator Eric Pratt
  • Senator Justin Eichorn 
  • Senator Bill Weber
  • Senator Charles Wiger (DFL)

State Government - Senate File 605

  • House Chair Sarah Anderson
  • Representative Tim O'Driscoll
  • Representative Bob Dettmer
  • Representative Kelly Fenton
  • Representative Jim Nash
  • Senate Chair Mary Kiffmeyer
  • Senator Bruce Anderson
  • Senator Mark Koran
  • Senator Dan Hall
  • Senator Carolyn Laine (DFL)

Public Safety - Senate File 803

  • House Chair Tony Cornish
  • Representative Brian Johnson
  • Representative Nick Zerwas
  • Representative Peggy Scott
  • Representative Debra Hilstrom (DFL)
  • Senate Chair Warren Limmer
  • Senator Jerry Relph
  • Senator Mark Johnson
  • Senator Ron Latz (DFL)
  • Senator Bruce Anderson

Jobs and Energy - Senate File 1937

  • House Chair Pat Garofalo 
  • Representative Jim Newberger 
  • Representative Joe Hoppe 
  • Representative Marion O'Neill
  • Representative Tim Mahoney (DFL)
  • Senate Chair Jeremy Miller 
  • Senator Gary Dahms 
  • Senator David Osmek 
  • Senator Paul Anderson
  • Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL)

April 7, 2017

Omnibus finance bills head to conference committees

This week, the House and Senate passed several omnibus finance bills, which will now move to conference committees to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions. Both the House and Senate set a target to complete their finance bills by the end of this week, and they are set to reach that goal by the end of the day today.

On Tuesday, April 4, the House passed its higher education finance bill 77-53. The only change made to the bill was the attachment of an amendment encouraging the University to move tuition rates toward the median for Big Ten universities. The Senate version of the bill passed 36-31 on March 28. View a comparison of the proposals

On Wednesday, April 5, Governor Mark Dayton indicated he would veto the current higher education omnibus bills as passed by the House and Senate unless changes were made. Extensive negotiations between the legislature and governor are likely in the weeks ahead.

The legislature will begin its spring recess tomorrow. Members will be back in their home districts, with no legislative activity planned at the Capitol. The House and Senate are expected to name conference committee conferees for the omnibus finance bills shortly after the legislature reconvenes on Tuesday, April 18

March 24, 2017

Legislature advances omnibus budget bills

This week, House and Senate committees, guided by spending targets announced by leadership, worked quickly to assemble and pass their omnibus budget and tax bills. These omnibus bills must be passed to the House or Senate floor by the final bill deadline on March 31. The full House and Senate will likely then vote on many of these bills prior to the start of the legislature’s spring break on April 10

Below is a summary of the House and Senate higher education omnibus bills. If you’d like additional information on other finance bills (environment, agriculture, taxes, etc.), please contact the Office of Government and Community Relations.

House and Senate higher education committees pass omnibus budget bills

On Wednesday, March 22, the Senate Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee passed its omnibus bill. Leadership provided $100 million to the committee in their budget target. The bill funds the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State, the Minnesota State Grant Program, and the Office of Higher Education. 

The Senate higher education bill provides $29.6 million in FY18-19 for the University of Minnesota, including:

  • $23.6 million for Core Missions Support
  • $4 million for MnDRIVE
  • $2 million for the Natural Resources Research Institute

The Senate bill also includes the following policy provisions:

  • Requests tuition freezes for academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19
  • Requires additional reporting items in biennial budget proposals
  • Requests a plan to increase the number of Greater Minnesota students at the Twin Cities campus 

On Thursday, March 23, the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee passed its omnibus bill. Leadership provided $149 million to the committee in their budget target. The bill funds the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State, the Minnesota State Grant Program, and the Office of Higher Education. 


The House higher education bill provides $22.1 million in FY18-19 for the University of Minnesota, including:

  • $2 million for MnDRIVE
  • $14 million for Health Training Restoration
  • $4 million for the Natural Resources Research Institute
  • $600,000 for a program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • $1.5 million for tuition payment assistance on the Morris campus

The House bill also includes the following policy provisions:

  • Requests automatic admission to any Minnesota high school student who graduates in the top 10% of their high school class
  • Prohibits mandatory fees funding non-instructional student programs, activities, groups, or services (The prohibition does not include fees for academic, administrative, or health services.)
  • Requires performance metrics tied to the state’s appropriation
  • Requires additional reporting requirements in biennial budget proposals 

View a comparison of the University’s budget request, the governor’s recommendations, and current House and Senate bills.

March 6, 2017

House and Senate higher ed committees hear U of M budget request

Last week, both the House and Senate higher education committees heard the University of Minnesota's budget request. President Eric Kaler began each presentation, introducing testifiers in support of each requested budget initiative.

  • Support core missions

    • Dr. Brian Burnett, senior vice president, Finance and Operations

  • Invest in student success

    • Karen Hanson, executive vice president and provost, Academic Affairs 

    • Harrison Nguyen, U of M student

  • Expand MnDRIVE

    • Dr. Brooks Jackson, Medical School dean and vice president, Health Sciences 

    • Dr. Jerrold Vitek, professor and chair, Department of Neurology

  • Restore critical health training and services

    • Dr. Brooks Jackson, Medical School dean and vice president, Health Sciences 

    • Dr. Lauren Williams, Family Medicine resident physician 

  • Advance NRRI applied research 

    • Rolf Weberg, executive director, Natural Resources Research Institute 

  • Support the Bell Museum's expanded programming

    • Denise Young, executive director, Bell Museum

In addition, Doug Huebsch, partner at New Life Farms, and U of M student Elizabeth Hazekamp testified in support of the full request. 

Watch the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance hearing.

On Wednesday, March 1, President Kaler thanked the chairs and members of both committees in a statement

Support The U Day 

On Wednesday, March 1, Governor Mark Dayton proclaimed March 1 as Support the U Day in Minnesota. Nearly 200 students, alumni, faculty, and staff visited the State Capitol to attend Support the U Day. Advocates kicked the day off with a rally in the Capitol rotunda, featuring Coach P.J. Fleck, President Kaler, and others. Then advocates met with their lawmakers throughout the afternoon. Finally, several students attended the House higher education hearing on the University's budget request.

February forecast released

On Tuesday, February 28, Minnesota Management and Budget released its February budget forecast, projecting a $1.65 billion surplus for the 2018-19 biennium, which is $250 million higher than the November forecast. This increase stems primarily from higher than expected income tax revenues and a slight decrease in state spending. Read the forecast documents

The February forecast sets the parameters for legislators' budget decisions. The legislature is tasked with passing an FY 2018-19 budget before the constitutionally mandated adjournment date of May 22, 2017. The University of Minnesota is requesting an additional $147.2 million in FY 2018-19.

February 24, 2017

House Capital Investment reviews 2015 special session bonding bill projects

On Tuesday, February 21, College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Trevor Ames testified in the House Capital Investment Committee on two University of Minnesota capital investment projects funded by the 2015 special session bonding bill. The first project, the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory is complete. Dean Ames explained the project was fast tracked to improve the state's ability to respond to highly pathogenic diseases. The second project, the Veterinary Isolation Facility is currently under construction and will be open in the fall of 2017. Dean Ames explained the new facility will replace three obsolete labs built in 1958. This new facility will allow Minnesota to become a leader in infectious diseases research and will protect the health of Minnesotans and livestock. Watch the hearing

House Agriculture Finance Committee hears U of M presentations

On Thursday, February 23, House Agriculture Finance Committee heard presentations from three Twin Cities campus deans: College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences Dean Brian Buhr; Extension Dean Beverly Durgan; and College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Trevor Ames. Each dean highlighted the statewide impact of their college's research, teaching, and services, and the value of state investment in these programs. Watch the hearing.

Representative Dave Baker visits UMTC to learn about addiction research

On Monday, February 20, Representative Dave Baker visited the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus to learn more about addiction research. Representative Baker met with Dr. Tim Ebner, head of the Medical School's Department of Neuroscience and a team of researchers. He also toured the Wallin Medical Biosciences Building and discussed the search for a leader of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. The U of M's Medical Discovery Teams were created in 2014 with state funding. 

Matt Kramer joins university and government relations

On Wednesday, February 22, Matt Kramer joined the U of M leadership team as the new vice president for university and government relations. Kramer previously served as the president and chief executive officer for the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Read the press release.

February 17, 2017

Second annual UMAA Capitol Intern and Alumni Networking Breakfast

Today, February 17, legislators and legislative staff who are University of Minnesota alumni attended a networking breakfast with current students who are interning at the State Capitol. President Kaler addressed the crowd of 60 interns and alumni, highlighting the critical role the University plays in the state and the importance of alumni networking with current students. Alumni Association CEO Lisa Lewis also addressed the group, discussing how a robust alumni network can benefit everyone. Senator Kari Dziedzic and Representative Randy Jessup shared their personal U of M experiences with attendees.

Bulldog Day at the Capitol

On February 16, more than 50 University of Minnesota Duluth students traveled to St. Paul for Bulldog Day at the Capitol. The students visited with lawmakers and discussed important issues like tuition and the Chemistry and Advanced Materials Sciences Building bonding request. The advocates also told lawmakers their personal stories about why they chose UMD and what they want to do with their degrees to make Minnesota a better place.

Ways and Means hears U of M budget and trends

On Monday, February 13, the House Ways and Means Committee requested the University to present its budget and trends. Senior Vice President for Finance and Budget Operation Brian Burnett and Budget Director Julie Tonneson presented the committee with the requested information, as well as an update on the University’s performance measures and an overview of the University’s budget request. View the presentation.

House Capital Investment hears U of M’s HEAPR request 

On Wednesday, February 8, Interim Vice President for University Services Mike Berthelsen and Assistant Vice President Brian Swanson presented the University’s 2017 HEAPR request to the House Capital Investment Committee. The presentation explained the project selection process and the importance of timely facility renewal systemwide. The presentation also highlighted specific projects that would be funded. View the presentation.

Senate Higher Ed and Aging and Long Term Care Committees hear AHC presentation

On Thursday, February 9, the Senate Higher Education Committee met jointly with the Senate Aging and Long Term Care Committee to hear about workforce training and helping people age in place. School of Public Health dean John Finnegan provided an overview of the Academic Health Center and health professional training and education. Dr. Jim Pacala, professor and associate head in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, presented on his research as a geriatrician. Finally, Dr. Diane Treat-Jacobson, professor in the School of Nursing, presented on her research on how to help people stay in their homes longer. 

Minnesota Principals Academy

On February 6, the Senate E-12 Finance Committee heard a bill to fund operations of the Minnesota Principals Academy in the College of Education and Human Development. Yesterday, February 16, the House Education Finance Committee heard the companion bill. At both hearings, program director Dr. Katie Pekel provided testimony in support of the bill. 

February 6, 2017

Senate Higher Ed hears U of M overview presentation

On Tuesday, January 21, 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. Similar to last week's House Higher Education Committee hearing, the presentation emphasized the U of M's statewide impact and vision to drive Minnesota forward. 

U of M student leader testifies in House Higher Ed

On Tuesday, January 31, U of M and Minnesota State student leaders were invited to testify in front of the House Higher Education Committee. William Dammann, Minnesota Student Association director of government and legislative affairs, testified on how state higher education funding has offered unique learning opportunities. He also spoke about how he appreciates the U of M's great faculty and research.

Legislative deadlines 

The 2017 legislative deadlines were announced on January 26 in a memo from House Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka.

  • Friday, March 10: committees must act favorably on bills in house of origin 
  • Friday, March 17: committees must act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other house 
  • Friday, March 31: the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills 

In addition, the legislature will break for Easter and Passover on Sunday, April 9 - Monday, April 17. The legislature is constitutionally mandated to adjourn by May 22, 2017

Matt Kramer named vice president for university and government relations

On Wednesday, February 1, President Kaler announced that Matt Kramer will join the U of M leadership team as the new vice president for university and government relations. Read the press release. Kramer currently serves as the president and chief executive officer for the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. He will begin his new role at the U of M on February 22.

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.