Legislature pushes TCF alcohol sales, bonding

Several proposed bills this session may affect the University and other higher ed institutions

Mitchell Yurkowitz

Minnesota’s 2014 legislative session began last Tuesday, and the Minnesota Senate has already introduced several bills, including some that may directly affect the University of Minnesota community.

State legislators can review the proposals, make amendments and introduce new legislation until the session ends in May. The following proposals are currently on the table in the Senate:

 

Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka

The bill requires study abroad programs to report incidents involving illness, death, sexual assault and police involvement in order for a higher education institution to offer academic credit. The information would be publicly available online.

Bonoff said she decided to draft the proposal after the deaths of two students — one a Minnetonka resident — on overseas programs were brought to her attention. She said she would like to see increased transparency for study abroad programs to guarantee students’ safety.

“We want to ensure that students who go on study abroad programs are safe,” Bonoff said.

 

Sen. Kevin Dahle, DFL-Northfield

This proposal would extend alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium.

The 2012 Minnesota Legislature approved beer and wine sales at the stadium. The two-year pilot program will expire this summer.

“It’s working pretty well,” Dahle said. “We think the model in place is working; let’s just lift the sunset and allow this to go indefinitely.”

Vice President of University Services Pam Wheelock said last month that she expects little opposition from the Legislature regarding the sales expansion.

 

Sen. Kevin Dahle, DFL-Northfield

The legislation prevents higher education institutions and public schools from asking students for usernames, passwords and other private information online. School-operated accounts and devices that these institutions pay for are not subject to the bill’s guidelines.

Dahle said he drafted the bill after Concordia University students brought it to his attention.

He said they heard about students in other states being required to give their schools access to personal social networking accounts, and they were concerned about the same thing happening to Minnesota students.

“I don’t believe it’s a problem in Minnesota right now,” Dahle said. “…But I also don’t think anyone should have to give up a password for any account.”

 

University bonding proposals included:

Tate Laboratory

Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis

The bill sets aside nearly $57 million to renovate the Tate Laboratory of Physics on the University’s East Bank. The amount matches the University’s 2014 capital request.

Microbial Research Lab

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville

The bill sets aside nearly $31 million to construct a new Microbial Research Laboratory on the University’s St. Paul campus. The amount matches the University’s 2014 capital request.

Laboratory Improvement Fund

Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis

The bill sets aside about $12 million to improve laboratories on the Twin Cities campus, specifically the bee and aquatic invasive species research labs. The amount matches the University’s 2014 capital request.

Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement

Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer

This bill sets aside $100 million to repair, maintain and renovate buildings throughout the University’s five-campus system. The amount matches the University’s 2014 capital request.

 

Other bills introduced this session included: 

Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport
Requires new Minnesota-bought smartphones to have a kill switch option.

Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley
Updates 529 college savings accounts to match federal guidelines, which allow the accounts to be subtracted from federal taxable income.

Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka
Grants resident tuition rates to all veterans that are honorably discharged.

Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato
Changes indoor regulations for electronic cigarettes.

Sen. Roger Reinart, DFL-Duluth
Expands liquor sales to include Sundays.

Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center
Changes drug prosecution guidelines for people who are seeking medical attention in the event of another person’s overdose.

Sen. David Brown, R-Becker
Makes it unlawful for a doctor to receive compensation for performing an abortion.

Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester
Provides funds to study plastic microbeads and their impact on aquatic ecosystems in coordination with the University.

Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls
Increases the state’s minimum wage to match the federal level.

Sen. Kevin Dahle, DFL-Northfield
Provides about $1.4 million for the University’s Forever Green Agriculture Initiative.

Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina
Addresses gender equity issues in the workplace, specifically regarding gender discrimination and pay gaps.