Legislative Update – March 24, 2017

House Higher Education hear amendments on omnibus bill

The House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance committee presented the House higher education omnibus bill Thursday evening.

Seven amendments were submitted by the 10:00 a.m. deadline that was announced by Chair Nornes the previous day. Rep. Whelan withdrew her amendment regarding fetal tissue research at the University of Minnesota based on continuing conversations with the University.

Amendments included some technical changes and the following items:

  • A portion of HF1577 was added to the bill which would require information on the legal rights of student parents and pregnant students and a list of resources to be provided to students who are parents of one ore more children age 12 or younger and to pregnant students at postsecondary institutions.The information must be made available in languages that reflect the primary languages of the student body.
  • Similar to action taken by the Senate, the amendment clarified Board of Psychology Statute to provide licensure exemptions for those teaching and conducting research in a secondary, postsecondary, or graduate institution.
  • The tuition rate for 2018-2019 at Minnesota State universities must not exceed the 2017-2018 rate.
  • An amendment deleted the provision for Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota that would have required any unspent money appropriated to both systems to be transferred back to the state’s general fund.

Testimony was heard from Commissioner Larry Pogemiller, Julie Townsend (University of Minnesota), Laura King (Minnesota State), Stacy Stout (Minnesota Chamber of Commerce), Paul Cervanik (Private College Council), and others from the community.

Laura King, chief financial officer for Minnesota State, noted the bill contains only about half of the $178 million in new funding the system requested and the tuition changes are a concern. “If this bill becomes law, our campuses will have significant financial pressure,” she said.

Julie Tonneson, the university’s associate vice president for budget and finance, expressed concern that the proposed funding is not enough to help the university maintain its core mission, which includes competitive compensation, research and technology infrastructure and facilities operation and maintenance. More than $68 million was sought for this.

Among her concerns, she said the university has cost increases that cannot be solely covered through reallocation and she believes it is critical to provide a modest salary increase for staff.

Both Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota expressed concerns regarding the inclusion of language that would prohibit both systems to impose on students mandatory fees that would fund non-instructional student programs, activities, groups, or services. Both shared the impact that it would have on critical student services.

The bill will now make its way to House Ways and Means next week before heading to the House Floor for discussion and a vote by all House members.

Read more…

Questions? Contact the Government Relations Team:

Jaime Simonsen
Bernie Omann
Jim Grathwol

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