Legislative Update: January 23, 2019

Lourey wins Senate District 11 DFL primary

Yesterday, voters in Senate District 11 voted to determine who the DFL nominee will be for the special election scheduled for Tuesday, February 5.

The Senate seat became vacant when state Senator Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, resigned in early January to become Governor Tim Walz’s Department of Human Services Commissioner.

Stu Lourey, a former staffer to U.S. Senator Tina Smith and former U.S. Senator Al Franken, won the DFL primary over Michelle Lee 53% to 47%.

Lourey, who is the son of former state Senator Tony Lourey and grandson of former state Senator Becky Lourey, has the support of several labor unions including Education Minnesota, AFSCME Council 5, AFSCME Council 65, MN AFL-CIO, Northeast Area Labor Council, Teamsters Joint Council 32, the Minnesota Nurses Association, and MAPE.

Lourey will face Representative Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, who is serving his third term in the House and represents the southern half of Senate District 11. Third-party candidate John Birrenbach, who is running under the Legal Marijuana Now Party, will also be on the ballot.

Senate District 11 includes all of Pine and Carlton counties, as well as the eastern portion of Kanabec County and a small portion of southern St. Louis County.

House higher education committee learns about Students United

The House Higher Education Finance and Policy committee members heard from Students United yesterday, an independent, non-profit organization funded and operated by students, serving over 65,000 students attending Minnesota State’s seven state universities: Bemidji State University; Minnesota State University, Mankato; Metropolitan State University; Minnesota State University Moorhead; St. Cloud State University; Southwest Minnesota State University; and Winona State University.

State Chair Kayla Shelly and Vice Chair Elijah Norris-Holliday testified regarding the organization’s mission and vision, as well as discussed their legislative agenda. The Students United mission reads, “Led by Minnesota State University students, we are the inclusive voice for all future, current, and former students. We actively work to represent and support Minnesota State University students and advocate at a campus, state, and federal level for higher education policies that make a positive impact for our students and communities.”

The organization’s 2019 legislative agenda includes supporting the Minnesota State legislative biennial budget request, as well as a commitment to advocating to uphold the higher education funding policy statute (135A.01) that states the Legislature intends to provide at least 67 percent of the cost of public postsecondary education. Students United also supports increased funding for the State Grant program that benefits state university students.

Both Chair Shelly and Vice Chair Norris-Holliday spoke about high levels of debt some students incur. Norris-Holliday attended Winona State University for his undergraduate degree and is currently at Minnesota State University, Mankato working on his master’s degree. He said the top criteria for him in choosing a college was affordability, which he said is why he attended Winona State University.

The committee will continue to hear from organizations regarding their mission, vision and goals. Today, they are scheduled to hear from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, the Minnesota Private College Council, Inter Faculty Organization (IFO), and Minnesota State College Faculty (MSCF).

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