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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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Update from St. Paul

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

The House has been working through the weekend to put the finishing touches on finance bills so we can send a second complete budget for the next two-year cycle to the governor.

Last night the House approved a package related to agriculture and earlier this evening we followed with final passage of the higher education funding I authored as chairman of that committee.

Overall, the bill provides $3.28 billion in General Fund appropriations, which marks a $210 million increase over the current biennial total. This includes $1.45 billion to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, an increase of $106 million in 2018-19.

Students at two-year colleges and four-year universities Minnesota State schools will see a tuition freeze in the 2018-19 school year.

We’ve worked hard with the governor to pull this bill together and put it in a form we believe Governor Dayton will sign. The mix of tuition relief and helpful other components this bill is geared toward affordability, accountability, accessibility and research. Those are four categories where we are striving to make a difference and that is quite evident in the bill we assembled.

In addition to the Minnesota State system, the bill also funds:

  • University of Minnesota: $1.3 billion ($54.6 million increase)
  • Office of Higher Education: $516 million ($49 million increase)

Other items in the package include:

  • Providing loan forgiveness to agriculture educators.
  • Establishing a workforce development scholarship to incentivize students to enter high-demand occupations after high school graduation.
  • Requiring the U of M to obtain approval from an institutional review board or stem cell oversight committee before conducting research on fetal tissue.
  • Investing $8 million toward cancer research and increased availability of clinical trials across the state as a part of the MnDRIVE initiative. There also is $6 million for the Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program.
  • Establishing a scholarship program for teachers of color.
  • Creating an academic program for students with intellectual disabilities at Minnesota State.

As for the agriculture bill special focus in this bill is given to plant agriculture, emerging noxious weed threats (specifically palmer amaranth), and investment in the future of agricultural practices and technologies.

Several more finance bills remain as we inch toward the deadline to adjourn at midnight Monday. We will stay at so we can get our job done and get another complete budget to the governor. Look for more as things unfold over the next 24-plus hours.



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