The Legislature is on break from work at the Capitol this week in recognition of the Easter/Passover season, but it’s not exactly what you’d call a vacation. My week has been filled with meetings as I get together with area officials and citizens to discuss a variety of this session’s issues.
For instance, Wednesday I joined other legislators from the region by visiting Minnesota State University Moorhead to discuss issues related to higher education. As chairman of the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee, I frequently visit institutions throughout the state to stay in touch and hear about any particular challenges they face. This is helpful in drafting bills for the House to consider.
As noted in my last email, the higher education finance bill which recently received preliminary approval in the House features a freeze for two-year state colleges during the 2017-18 school year and a 1-percent reduction in 2018-19. Tuition at state universities would be frozen in 2019.
That bill is among a series of 11 omnibus finance packages that will be the subjects of joint House-Senate conference committees after we return to the Capitol next week. Those panels will work to iron out differences between House and Senate proposals so the bills can be brought back to each body and, upon approval, be sent to the governor for his decision on enactment into law.
Only five full weeks remain in the 2017 session, so work on the finance bills will be top priority the rest of the way in order to establish a new two-year state budget before we are scheduled to adjourn in late May.
I will pass along as more develops in St. Paul. Until then, have a safe and blessed Easter/Passover holiday in the company of friends and loved ones.