Legislative Update, May 3, 2012

Yesterday at the Capitol

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the higher education omnibus bill, SF 1573, yesterday afternoon. The bill is now Minnesota Session Laws 2012, Chapter 270 and can be found at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/laws/?id=270&year=2012&type=0.

The bill includes provisions important to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. One of those is the continuing operations language that will allow colleges and universities access to their cash in order to continue serving students if a government shutdown were to happen again.

The bill also includes an increase in the revenue fund authority from $300 million to $405 million. This language will allow campuses the opportunity to evaluate and plan, in consultation with students, for the future of revenue generating facilities including, but not limited to: dorms, student unions, dining facilities, and parking.

The bill adds categories to the types of students who are not required, under current law, to have a statement of immunization on file with a college or university as a prerequisite to enrolling. The new language specifically excludes students attending only extension, online, or evening or weekend adult accelerated programs.

The textbook language in the bill includes the establishment of a work group to study methods that result in lower textbook costs for students. There is also language that requires MnSCU institutions to publish course schedules and course material lists on the institution’s Web site.

The textbook language also makes the notification to the campus bookstore of selected course material mandatory for MnSCU academic departments or instructors, and requires the notice of selection to be provided to the bookstore and students 45 days, instead of 30 days, before the start of the term. The bookstore is also required to make reasonable efforts to notify students at least 30 days, instead of 15 days, prior to the start of the term of the most recent copyright date of the printed course material and the copyright date of the most recent prior edition of the course material, if that prior edition is acceptable for class use.

In the bill, the Permanent University Fund provides for up to $25 million to be credited to an endowment for the costs of operating a mining, metallurgical, or related engineering degree program offered through the University of Minnesota at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College and for scholarships for students to attend the mining, metallurgical or related engineering program. The maximum scholarship cannot exceed $6,500 per year for a maximum of four years.

Language regarding the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) student fee, a classroom-based, content-specific assessment that captures teacher candidates’ performance in planning and delivering instruction primarily taken during the student teaching phase of a student’s education, was included in the bill and requires the Minnesota Board of Teaching to report to the K-12 and higher education legislative committees by January 5, 2013 with recommendations for eliminating lower priority tests or assessments required of teacher education students to offset the additional fees charged to students for the TPA. Currently the student is not bearing any cost for completing the TPA because the assessment is in its pilot phase.

While lawmakers did not meet in session yesterday, legislative leaders and Gov. Dayton continued to meet to negotiate an end-of-session deal. As the day progressed Dayton signaled that he was more open to the Republican plan to pay for the Vikings stadium with general obligation bonds instead of charitable gaming revenue.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said the new plan would be part of the bonding bill and indicated they would be open to including a roof for the stadium, which Dayton said is essential. Dean said as they move forward, Republicans want to make sure they have buy-in from Democrats and the Vikings. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said there is currently a plan sitting on the House and Senate floors waiting for a vote, and said Democrats would prefer to vote on the stadium bills vetted through the committee process.

Both Republicans and Democrats said they are willing to consider options as they move forward. The task at hand with only five working days remaining in the session, is how to wrap-up a stadium bill, bonding bill and tax bill that can be agreed-upon by everyone. Stay tuned.

Today at the Capitol

10:00 a.m.
Conference Committee on data practices bill
Room: Capitol Room 107
Chairs: Rep. Peggy Scott and Sen. Warren Limmer
Agenda: SF 1143 (Scott) Data practices technical changes made

12:00 p.m.
House in Session
3:00 p.m.

Senate in Session

Melissa Fahning
Legislative Communications
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
30 7th St. E., Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 201-1757
(612) 483-3741 cell
melissa.fahning@so.mnscu.edu

 

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