What passed, what didn’t

A wrap-up of new legislation affecting students

Hundreds gathered in the rotunda of the capital cheer as it is announced that the bill had passed, Monday afternoon.

Bridget Bennett

Hundreds gathered in the rotunda of the capital cheer as it is announced that the bill had passed, Monday afternoon.

Cody Nelson

 

The Minnesota state Legislature adjourned its 2013 session last week, and with it comes a slew of new legislation that will directly affect the University of Minnesota and its students.

With the end of the session, same-sex marriages will be legal in the state starting Aug. 1, undocumented Minnesota students can pay in-state tuition) pending University approval) and the tax on cigarettes will rise.

This graphic details the various new laws that will affect students as well as some legislation that failed.       

HIGHER EDUCATION BUDGET

The Legislature increased higher education funding by about $250 million, including an $80 million increase to the University to fund items like the two-year tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates, the DREAM Act — which allows undocumented Minnesota students to pay in-state tuition, pending University approval — and a new research initiative.

University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said this higher education budget is the “first realized increase” for the state’s appropriation to the University in six years.

About $25 million in the second half of the University’s biennial budget is dependent on some performance goals. To receive that money, the University must complete at least three of five goals, like decreasing administrative spending by $15 million and improving graduation rates.

$42.6 million

With the funding, the University will freeze tuition for resident undergraduates. This amount will be dispersed over the next two fiscal years.

$100,000

This one-time appropriation covers the information technology costs to implement the DREAM Act — or Prosperity Act — which provides in-state benefits to undocumented students. These funds will go to the Office of Higher Education’s general fund in fiscal year 2014.

$36.65 million

This appropriation will go to a new University research initiative called MnDRIVE.

 

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

After a contentious, months-long debate in both legislative chambers, Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage. The law will take effect Aug. 1.

The historic measure marks a rapid shift in state policy regarding same-sex marriage.

Two years ago, the Republican-led Legislature put last fall’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota on the ballot.

Minnesotans, however, voted the amendment down and put DFLers in control of both the House and Senate for the 2013 legislative session. They were able to push the measure through this session in a vote that stayed mostly along party lines, with a few from each side bucking party beliefs.

OTHER BILLS

Medical Amnesty

This bill will provide legal immunity from alcohol consumption and possession charges for underage drinkers seeking emergency medical help. It will go into effect Aug. 1 and was largely pushed by the Minnesota Student Association.

Transportation

Lawmakers allocated $2.5 million to the Southwest Corridor light rail project, which would connect suburbs as far away as Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis and the Hiawatha light-rail line.

Internships

The omnibus tax bill offers tax breaks for greater Minnesota businesses that offer internships to college students.

The policy had been pushed for two years prior to passing, and supporters hope it will increase the amount of students looking outside the metro area for internships and jobs. Students must receive college credit for the internship.

Taxes

Smokers and high-income Minnesotans will pay more taxes when this session’s omnibus tax bill takes effect.

In a move that some hope will decrease smoking in the state, the cigarette tax will go up to $1.60 a pack.

A higher income tax rate is expected to affect the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans. The new rate of 9.85 percent gives the state the country’s fifth highest income tax.

Minimum wage

A bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015 failed. House DFLers pushed the measure until the final days of the session but never got the necessary support.

Minnesota businesses must follow the federal government’s minimum wage of $7.25.

There was a push to give driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but the measure didn’t pass this session.

Clothing sales tax

After lengthy debate, there will still be no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota.

Drivers Licenses

There was a push to give driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but the measure didn’t pass this session.

Medical marijuana

A bill was introduced to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, but it didn’t pass. The measure has been attempted before and will likely be brought up in future legislative sessions.

Gun control

After much debate and controversy, few gun control laws were agreed upon this session. This issue could come back in future sessions.

Biking

In efforts to improve bike safety, the Legislature passed a law that makes it illegal to drive through, stop or park in a bike lane, with a few exceptions.