Legislative Update, May 9, 2012

Good morning. By a unanimous vote of 131-0, the House passed HF 2967, a supplemental budget bill that includes $457,000 in FY 2013 for a leveraged equipment program at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The appropriation is to be matched by cash or in-kind contributions from non-state sources. The funding will help the colleges and universities have up-to-date equipment and laboratories to educate students. The bill now heads to Gov. Dayton for consideration.

By a vote of 97-33, the House concurred yesterday afternoon with the Senate changes made in the bonding bill.  The changes include $500,000 taken from the $50 million business development through capital projects grants for the South St. Paul floodwall extension, and $2 million taken from the same grant program for the Maplewood Harriet Tubman Center. Also language was adopted in the Senate that includes permissive language for the installation of solar energy systems with construction or major renovation of a state building.

The bonding bill includes $94.7 million in general obligation funds, or $132 million with user financing included, for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The bill can be found at: www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=ueh1752.1.html&session=ls87. The bill is now headed to Gov. Dayton for consideration.

After more than 10 hours of debate yesterday, the Senate approved the Vikings stadium bill by a vote of 38-28. A conference committee has been formed to work through the differences between the House and Senate versions. If interested, the Pioneer Press includes a list of the differences between the two bills: http://www.twincities.com/vikings/ci_20574046/how-vikings-stadium-bill-differs-between-house-and?nstrack=sid:2073577|met:300|cat:0|order:4.

A tax bill is being resurrected, and the conference committee will meet this morning at 9:00. Both the Senate and House are in session today at 1:00 p.m.

In Congress, the U.S. Senate tried to take up the student loan legislation yesterday, but by a vote of 52-45, the Senate rejected a motion to proceed to the legislation. (60 votes were needed to move to a debate). The U.S. House has already approved legislation that would extend the interest rate, however President Obama has threatened to veto it because he opposes how the Republicans proposed paying for it, with cuts to a preventative care fund from the healthcare law. If Congress does not take action, the interest rate on federal student loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.

Next week, Tuesday, May 15 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 5 of the State Office Building, the Trustee Candidate Advisory Council will meet. The TCAC is a 24-member council charged with recommending to the Governor candidates for each open seat on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees.

Thank you.


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