Friday, May 18, 2012

MnSCU Legislative Session Summary


Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
2012 Legislative Session Summary

Higher Education Omnibus Bill
The House and Senate higher education committees put together a bill that passed both bodies April 27, 2012. The higher education omnibus bill, while not large, includes provisions important to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities 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 of students 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 the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities 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 in which the selected material will be used. 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.

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.
The governor signed the bill on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The final bill is available at:

www.revisor.mn.gov/laws/?id=270&year=2012&type=0.

Bonding Bill

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) requested $278 million ($222 million in state funding) in higher education asset and preservation and bonding projects for the 2012 legislative session. Chancellor Steven Rosenstone and Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Brian Yolitz presented the request to the Senate and House higher education committees and capital investment committees explaining to members that the system’s request covers two main areas; asset preservation projects to protect the campus facilities keeping them safe, efficient, dry, warm and code compliant; and projects to provide the necessary facilities for graduates to learn the skills required to meet business and industry’s current and 

future needs. The request can be found at: 
http://www.mnscu.edu/media/publications/pdf/bonding2012book.pdf.

In mid-January, Gov. Mark Dayton released his bonding recommendation totaling $775 million, of which $112 million was recommended for MnSCU. The Legislature introduced legislation in the area of $500 million for bonding, but the two bodies structured their bills differently.

The House worked with two bonding bills; a statewide infrastructure bill that funded $280 million in projects, of which $56 million was earmarked for MnSCU. The second bonding bill included $221 million for State Capitol restoration. The State Capitol bill failed by one vote on the House floor, so House members added the $221 million restoration project in the statewide infrastructure bill and reduced other projects, including the amount set for MnSCU. Instead of $56 million for the system, the House bill scaled the system funding to $30 million for HEAPR only.

In the Senate, members worked with just one bonding bill totaling $496 million, of which $127 million was slated for MnSCU - $32 million in HEAPR and the remaining $95 million in projects. The Senate included $25 million for the State Capitol restoration project in the same bill.

Neither body took up their bonding bill on the floor in order to send it to conference committee to iron out the differences between the House and Senate. However, in the final days of session, the Republican leadership brought forward a $496 million bill that included $44 million for the State Capitol restoration project. With the large drop in proposed funding for the State Capitol restoration, and the exclusion of local civic center projects, there was room in the bill for other projects.

The House passed the $496 million bonding bill May 7, and sent it to the Senate for final passage. The Senate passed the bill, but also amended it, so the bill had to be sent back to the House. On May 8 the House concurred with the Senate bonding bill, passed it and sent it to Gov. Dayton.

The final bill includes $132 million ($94.7 million in state funding) for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, of which $20 million is for HEAPR, higher education asset preservation and replacement.

The individual projects include:
  •         $13.389 million for the Minneapolis Community and Technical College workforce program renovation;
  •         $13.851 million for Ridgewater College, Willmar technical instruction lab renovation;
  •         $4.606 million for Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington renovation and addition;
  •         $13.315 million for South Central College, Faribault classroom renovation and addition;
  •         $0.980 million for Anoka Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids bioscience and allied health addition;
  •         $26.292 million for North Hennepin Community College bioscience and health careers center addition;
  •         $0.500 million for Southwest Minnesota State University science lab renovation;
  •         $1.5 million for Saint Paul College health and science center design;
  •         $5 million for Century College academic partners classroom design and construction;
  •         $7.230 million for Dakota County Technical College transportation and emerging technical lab renovation;
  •         $8.746 million for Rochester Community and Technical College workforce center;
  •         $2.5 million for the system wide STEM renovation;
  •         $2.065 million for Minnesota State University, Mankato clinical science building design;
  •         $3.303 million for Bemidji State University business building addition/renovation design and demolition;
  •         $4.549 million for Northeast Higher Education District Itasca Community College demolition, renovation and addition;
  •         $4 million for St. Cloud Technical and Community College medium heavy truck and auto body addition and renovation; and
  •         $0.300 million for Northland Community and Technical College aviation maintenance facility expansion.

The final bill is available at:
www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=ueh1752.1.html&session=ls87

In addition to the HEAPR funding and projects included in the bonding bill, there is also language related to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The scope of two projects funded in the 2011 bonding bill were modified to align with the intended project description; the Normandale Community College Academic Partnership Center and Student Services project, and the Mesabi Range Community and Technical College Iron Range Engineering Program Facilities project.

There is also language that expands the authorized use of state bond appropriations made in the 2008 bonding bill for the National Hockey Center at St. Cloud State University to include HEAPR uses on the St. Cloud State University campus.

Other bill highlights related to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system

Leveraged Equipment Funding
Chapter 292, the annual forecast bill, includes funding for several items totaling $2 million including $210,000 for the GI Bill and $457,000 in fiscal year 2013 for a leveraged equipment program for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The equipment is to be used for instructional purposes for programs that the Board of Trustees has determined would produce graduates with skills for which there is a high employer need within the state. This one-time appropriation must be matched by cash or in-kind contributions from non-state sources.

K-12 Education Bill Chapter 239 includes language regarding post-secondary enrollment options (PSEO). Currently, the PSEO program allows high school juniors and seniors to take post-secondary level courses while still completing high school. The bill expands PSEO to 10th grade students by permitting them to enroll in a career or technical education course at qualified postsecondary institutions.
Basic Skills Exam Bill

Chapter 122 requires teacher candidates to pass a basic skills exam in reading, writing and math prior to becoming a licensed teacher in Minnesota. Current law allows students who have completed a teacher preparation program to receive up to three one-year licenses without passing a basic skills exam.
Online / Digital Learning Bill

Chapter 273 requires all colleges and universities who prepare teacher preparation students to include in their teacher preparation programs the knowledge and skills teacher candidates need to deliver digital and blended learning and curriculum. Staff development of teachers must include the accommodation of delivery of digital and blended learning and curriculum and engage students with technology.
Student Transition Plan Bill

Chapter 207 strongly encourages school districts to assist students by ninth grade to explore their college and career interests and aspirations and develop a plan for a smooth and successful transition to postsecondary education or employment. The plans should, among other things, provide a comprehensive academic plan for completing a college and career-ready curriculum, help students identify personal learning styles that may affect their postsecondary education and employment choices, and help students succeed at gaining access to postsecondary education and career options.

Greater Minnesota Internship Program
The tax bill passed by the House and Senate and sent to Gov. Dayton includes language regarding the Greater Minnesota Internship Program. The Office of Higher Education is to administer a grant program for eligible employers who hire interns in greater Minnesota through eligible postsecondary institutions that provide academic credit. To participate, an eligible institution must enter into a written agreement with eligible employers to provide paid internships at least 12 weeks long, determine the work experience is closely related to the student’s course of study, and provide academic credit for successful completion of the internship.

A grant for an eligible employer equals 40 percent of the compensation paid to each qualifying intern, not to exceed $1,250. An employer may receive a grant for a maximum of five interns in a fiscal year. The total amount of grants is limited to $1 million per fiscal year.

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