OCTOBER 2016 Legislative Update

October 2016

Minnesota College Ballot BowlMuch is at stake this election. Across Minnesota’s private college campuses, students are leading the charge to get more people registered to vote.

The Minnesota Association of Private College Students (MAPCS) has urged all our nonprofit colleges and universities compete in the College Ballot Bowl, a contest sponsored by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, to register students to vote for the first time. There’s information for students online and Secretary Simon has personally asked campuses across Minnesota to join this effort and hopes to spur competition among campuses for new voter registrations.

“If you vote in your first eligible election, research shows you will be a lifelong voter,” said Paget Pengelly, Minnesota Private College Council grassroots organizer. “We are finding that private college students are very engaged and want to participate in the process.”

There will be a variety of winners announced before Election Day, including largest number of students registered and the highest percentage of the student body that was registered to vote. Our campuses are also providing clear information for students about same-day voting and helping students find polling places. Many offer rides to the polls.

October 2016

Here are a few recent examples of what’s going on at our private nonprofit colleges tied to the election.

MCAD leaves its mark on the election
MCAD’s Design Works has teamed up with the city of Minneapolis to ensure everyone has a smooth experience while casting their ballots on Election Day, thanks to better signage. DesignWorks is an in-house design studio provides students with real-world, hands-on experiences working on projects — in this case for all Minneapolis voters. Read how this came about and the impact it is having in the Council’s October newsletter.

Two recent grads dig into the election
The hard work of running and winning elections is something two recent grads are seeing up close this fall. Rachel Palermo, a St. Olaf grad, is an assistant press secretary for the Democrats in D.C.; Stephen M. H. Change, a Bethel grad, is political director for the GOP in Minnesota’s 8th congressional district. Read about their experiences in the Council’s September newsletter.

Experts delve into election year dynamics
There are many experts on politics teaching at our private colleges. The Council’s August newsletter included excerpts from recent writings by two of them, both professors of political science: Carleton’s Steven Schier and Hamline’s David Schultz.

October 2016

While choosing our next president is certainly getting the most media coverage, there are many state legislative races that will decide the make-up of the next Legislature.

MINNESOTA HOUSE
In the House, Republicans hold the majority by eight seats. They currently have a 73-61 majority over their Democrat counterparts. There are six Republican members and four Democrats retiring. Another five Democrats are running for a state senate seat. For the Democrats to retake the House majority they will need to retain the nine vacated seats and win elections in seven seats currently held by Republicans.

MINNESOTA SENATE
In the Senate, the Democratic leadership currently holds a 39-28 majority over Senate Republicans. There are eight retiring Democrats, as well as one Democrat running for Congress. The Republicans have four retiring members. In order for the Senate Republicans to flip the majority they would need to retain the four vacated seats while picking up six seats that are currently represented by a Democrat.

Use your address to view your 2016 sample ballot.

October 2016

For college students, strong financial aid programs are so critical. One out of every four college students receives a Minnesota State Grant. Without it, many students would be unable to attend college — or they would have to take on more debt.

As a student, parent, alum or other supporter, there are simple things you can do to help. This can include learning about the State Grant, spreading the word about its importance and sharing your views with the lawmakers who will decide on future funding.

FOR STUDENTS
The 2017 Legislative Session begins on January 3 and will not adjourn until May 22. Students from across our campuses will come to meet with their legislators on four Days at the Capitol:

  • February 22: Concordia College, Saint Benedict/Saint John’s, St. Scholastica
  • March 7: Concordia University, St. Kate’s, St. Thomas
  • March 21: Bethany Lutheran, Gustavus, Saint Mary’s
  • April 6: Augsburg, Bethel, Hamline, St. Olaf

Students are once again writing hand-written notes to legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton, thanking them for State Grant support. Join your campus community to thank lawmakers for funding the State Grant program. Every campus plans to host an event, including these events already scheduled:

  • November 15: Bethany Lutheran
  • November 16: St. Scholastica
  • November 21: Gustavus
  • December 5: Macalester

If you are a student interested in taking part in any of these activities, please contact Paget Pengelly. You can also connect with student leaders from the Minnesota Association of Private College Students.