Chairs of higher education

The GOP committee appointees have had very different legislative priorities.

Daily Editorial Board

Once they won control, Minnesota Republicans began appointing new chairpeople on Legislative committees âÄî with some admirable streamlining efforts. In the LegislatureâÄôs two new higher education chairpeople, there is both a proven commodity and one big question mark.

Rep. Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls will take back control of the House Higher Education Committee, which heâÄôs chaired before. Nornes authored some higher education proposals last session, including potential higher education funding bills. The outgoing committee chairman, the fiery Tom Rukavina, told the Minnesota Daily last week that he had confidence in NornesâÄô leadership. He has a history of working with higher education and weâÄôre also confident Nornes is cut out to manage higher education.

His Senate counterpart garners far less confidence. Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville takes over the Senate Higher Education Committee despite never having served on it in her 14 years at the Capitol. Last session she authored no bills relating to either K-12 or higher education. Her priorities appear to be elsewhere: She served as the GOP lead on the Health and Human Services Committee last year and was elected president of the Senate.

Fischbach will have something to prove to the higher education community. She canâÄôt be derelict in her duties as chairwoman and should rely heavily on former Senate GOP higher education leader Claire Robling of Jordan for help. WeâÄôre certain the Republicans will take a different approach to legislating than that seen in years past, but committee chairpeople with a passion for the subject at hand is an absolute necessity.