2014 Legislative Updates
February 21, 2014
This was an extremely busy week at the Statehouse as funnel week came a day early for many committees when the Iowa House decided to go home a day early due to the weather. The self-imposed deadline whittled down the list of bills the legislature will consider this session.
We had hoped and expected to see budget targets this week but agreement continues to elude House and Senate leaders. Some of the disagreement stems from how much funding to provide for both the Regents institutions and the community colleges.
There was significant progress on SF2124 (the MHEC Sara bill). Executive Director Bob Donley met with the Attorney General’s office to hammer out an agreement on language that should allow us to move forward with the interstate reciprocity agreement while maintaining the state’s strong student consumer protections. The bill then moved out of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. The House in turn approved the companion bill HF2311.
The House and Senate Education Committees also adopted legislation dealing with professional development for teachers to improve literacy. Both bills, HF2334 and SF2070, require assistance for dyslexia and provide a definition.
Legislation excluding Iowa from the Common Core and pulling out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium failed to move forward. The House Education Committee instead approved HSB592, which also deals with core content standards, assessments, curricula and student data collection.
HF 2224, which requires reporting on educational credit veterans receive from the universities, passed out of the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Monday, Feb. 24, UNI students, faculty and staff will travel to the Iowa Capitol to host UNI Day in the rotunda of the Statehouse from 1 to 3 p.m. This is a great opportunity to learn about the wonderful academic programs UNI has to offer, our cutting-edge research and amazing student organizations. Meet President Bill Ruud, take pictures with our mascot TC and hear a performance by a jazz trio representing UNI's School of Music.
This is also the perfect time for alumni to reconnect with their alma mater and advocate on our behalf. Let’s remind legislators that 91 percent of our students are from Iowa, and 10 years after graduation, 75 percent are still living in Iowa. And while a tuition freeze is great for our students and their families, it impacts UNI’s budget more severely than our sister institutions. Our reliance on in-state tuition and state appropriations means additional funding for UNI is critical this year.
Let your voice be heard! If you can’t join us in person on Monday, please contact your local senator or representative and remind them about the unique and valuable role UNI plays in Iowa.
UNI Faculty speak at the Capitol
February 17, 2014
Last week was extremely positive for UNI with multiple presentations at the Statehouse featuring university faculty and administrators.
UNI literacy professor Deb Tidwell was part of a panel before the Senate Education Committee on SF 2070 dealing with dyslexia. She urged the committee to stick to research-proven reading curriculum and warned against narrowly prescriptive teacher preparation that may not serve a broad spectrum of reading deficiencies.
Also on Wednesday, Dan Nickey, the associate director of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) at UNI, presented before the House Natural Resources Committee regarding the IWRC’s work to reduce food waste in Iowa. He warned lawmakers that food waste in Iowa has increased 62 percent over 13 years, but said it’s an issue that can be tackled through more awareness, education and waste reduction programs. The Mason City Globe Gazette featured a story on Nickey’s presentation.
President Ruud appeared before the Education Appropriations Committee. He reminded legislators 91 percent of UNI students are from Iowa and 75 percent are still in Iowa 10 years later. He also advocated for additional funding for UNI considering our heavy dependence on in-state tuition and state appropriations. Questions from the committee members allowed Ruud to share some positive stories about student debt, veteran services, ROTC and fundraising.
Also on Thursday, Michael Hager, UNI’s vice president of Business and Finance, along with Dwight Watson, dean of the College of Education, presented our capitol request to the Transportation and Infrastructure Appropriations Committee. They outlined how renovating the Schindler Education Center will improve student learning, faculty and student collaboration, heating and cooling, and working conditions.
And finally, Thursday was STEM Day at the Capitol. President Ruud enjoyed meeting and recruiting high school students from around the state, learning about UNI’s STEM ambassadors and connecting with legislators.
Bill Ruud with students from Metro Robotics from Metro High School in Cedar Rapids
Left to Right: UNI associate professor of mathematics Catherine Miller, UNI math education majors Julia North and Hannah Miller, Bill Ruud
Photo - Left to Right: Bill Ruud, Rep. Sandy Salmon (R) Janesville, Michael Hager
There continues to be subcommittee meetings prior to the first funnel deadline next week. The most notable meetings last week were on HSB 619/ SF 2124 (the MHEC SARA bill), which would allow interstate reciprocity agreements for online higher education, and HSB615, which would require us to report to the governor and the general assembly various statistics on veteran enrollment and credits awarded for service.
In confirmation news
On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to recommend confirmation of Regents Dakovich and McKibben. This is the first hurdle in the confirmation process and portends smooth sailing during the full Senate vote later this session.
We expect the House and Senate to announce joint budget targets sometime this week. We hope that this news is accompanied by a commitment to fund the 4 percent increase necessary to freeze tuition.
February 7, 2014
This week Regents Milt Dakovich and Larry McKibben testified before the Senate Education Committee as part of the confirmation process. Both received strong support and are expected to be confirmed by a significant margin later this session.
The majority of the work now is in subcommittees as legislators work through policy bills before the first funnel deadline in two weeks. Subcommittees are often announced without much notice, so it is important for UNI faculty and staff to submit comments to me in a timely fashion so I can share any concerns or request amendments early in the legislative process.
Notable subcommittees this week included:
HSB 534 An Act relating to the National Guard Educational Assistance Program by removing residency requirements, and providing for the non-reversion of certain funds, and including effective date provisions.
SF 2070 An Act relating to the definition of dyslexia, screening for dyslexia, and professional development opportunities and requirements and endorsement for instruction on reading disabilities including dyslexia. (Includes requirements for all teacher preparation programs)
SSB 3149 A study bill for an act relating to state and school anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, establishing an office of harassment and bullying prevention and response, establishing a school climate improvement grant program, providing training on harassment and bullying prevention and response and making appropriations. (Includes language directing the Regents institution to include training in teacher preparation programs)
Other notable legislation:
HF 2153 An Act directing the state Board of Regents and the Department of Education to convene a commission to study financing strategies for the state’s public postsecondary institutions.
HSB 615 An Act requiring reporting on certain educational credits awarded to veterans.
HSB 619 An Act relating to the duties and authority of the College Student Aid Commission relating to the registration of certain postsecondary schools, to interstate reciprocity agreements and to registration fees collected by the commission.
Next week UNI will participate in several presentations at the Statehouse.
On Wednesday Feb. 12, UNI Professor Deb Tidwell will present before the Senate Education Committee on literacy as it relates to teacher preparation and SF 2070.
Also on Wednesday, Dan Nickey, the Associate Director of UNI’s Iowa Waste Reduction Center will present before the House Natural Resources committee regarding the IWRC’s work to reduce food waste in Iowa.
On Thursday Feb. 13 UNI President Bill Ruud will present our budget request to the Education Appropriations Committee. At the same time Michael Hager, vice president of Business and Finance, and Dwight Watson, dean of the College of Education, will testify before the Transportation and Infrastructure Appropriations Committee about our capital request –the renovation of the Schindler Education Center.
Economic Development Presentation
February 7, 2014
Members of UNI’s Business and Community Services team traveled to the Statehouse to present our economic development budget request to a subcommittee co-chaired by Senator Bill Dotzler, a democrat from Waterloo and proud UNI graduate. The presentation focused in part on Advance Iowa: Iowa’s Economic Gardening Program which is led by UNI. It focuses on growing existing mid-sized Iowa firms (10-100 employees) using tools and resources that these firms would not be able to access otherwise; including custom research, new media/E-commerce analysis, competitive intelligence, sales leads and market/industry research.
Left to right: Dan Beenken, UNI’s Business Incubation Manager and the Program Director of Advance Iowa: Iowa’s Economic Gardening Program; Anita Messerschmidt, CEO, Embark IT ; Randy Pilkington, Executive Director of UNI’s Business and Community Services
The presentation also included testimony for the Director of UNI’s Metal Casting Center, Jerry Thiel who focused on rapid casting technology featuring our new 3D printer. Since the printer was installed on September 27th,our Metal Castings Center has worked with 20 private industry companies, 4 universities and 5 state and federal organizations.
Senator Jeff Danielson (D) Cedar Falls enjoys a demonstration of UNI’s 3D printer
Governor Terry Branstad at a recent printer demonstration
UNI veterans at the Statehouse
January 31, 2014
The University of Northern Iowa had the distinct honor of presenting before the House Veterans Affairs committee. We were asked to testify about the work we are doing to both educate and provide jobs for returning veterans. We currently have 268 students at UNI who are receiving military benefits and another 114 veterans who are employed by the University with 13 veterans having been hired in 2013 alone. Terry Hogan, Vice President for Student Affairs at UNI, introduced the panel and provided brief remarks.
“As a growing number of veterans return home and begin to pursue higher education, we realize that we have a special obligation to help them to succeed. We began our efforts in earnest in 2009 when we launched a campus wide task force to assess the needs of veterans and plan services that would be responsive. A key milepost in this entire process was the hiring of a coordinator who would devote full, professional attention to the effort. “
(Left to right) Dr. Terry Hogan, Jeremy Rosel, Alex Mackey, Julia Heuer, and State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic (D) Waterloo
Julia Heuer serves as coordinator of Military and Veteran Student Services at UNI. Heuer served four years of active duty in the United States Army. She was recently named by Governor Branstad to the working group that will help implement the Home Base Iowa initiative to recruit veterans to Iowa and match them with available jobs. She provided the committee with a great overview of the services UNI now offers veteran students; including a veteran’s student center conveniently located in Mauker Union and a website that serves as a single source of information for prospective and current military/veteran students at www.uni.edu/military.
“We support military members, veterans, and their families as they transition between military duty, college, and new careers. We are committed to faculty and staff education, on and off campus resource networking, advocacy, and listening to each student to ensure that each military-affiliated students’ voice is heard and they are supported in achieving success in class and beyond.“
(Left to right) Jeremy Rosel, Alex Mackey, State Representative Sandy Salmon (R) Janesville, State Representative Stan Gustafson (R) Cumming, Julia Heuer
Dr. Hogan and Ms. Heuer were joined at the Statehouse by Alex Mackey and Jeremy Rosel. Mackey is a leader within our UNI Veterans Association (UNIVA) and a senior political science major from Ft Dodge. He served over four years in the Marines. Rosel is a senior history major from Clear Lake, Iowa. He served 5 years active duty as a Navy corpsman with the Marines and has also been an active leader in our campus and within the UNIVA. They provided powerful testimony about how the UNIVA helped them feel more connected to campus support their transition to civilian life.
Condition of the State Speech
January 31, 2014
UNI students enjoyed special access to the Governor’s Condition of the State speech this year at the Iowa Capitol. The Governor invited students from each of the three public universities to attend in order to highlight his support for another tuition freeze this fall. If the necessary funding is approved by the legislature, it will be the first back to back tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students in 30 years. Thank you to the UNI students who traveled to Des Moines for the speech and a thank you to KaLeigh White for helping to organize the trip.
Front row (Left to right): Victoria Hurst, Johnale Jackson, Christian Sather, Clarine Ford, Katie Schura, Stef McGraw Back row (Left to right): Katie Evans, Lauren Dietz, DeMarco Lowery, Tom Madsen, Michael Kelly.
Budget Message from President Ruud
January 15, 2014
Dear UNI Family,
We are grateful to the governor for recognizing the unique funding challenges at UNI resulting from our historic focus on educating Iowa residents. Under this proposal, FY2015 funding for UNI would be $90.9 million, an increase of nearly $2 million over the current budget year. This is enough to allow the Board of Regents to once again freeze tuition for resident undergraduate students, which make up more than 90 percent of our student body.
This is a very positive start to the legislative session and we are thankful for Gov. Branstad’s continued commitment to the public universities. Our focus now turns to the house and senate, as leaders in each chamber will release their own budget proposals later this month.
2014 Legislative Session Preview
January 13, 2014
The Iowa General Assembly convenes today and recent news reports show there’s reason to be optimistic about the outcome. Gov. Terry Branstad, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal have all spoken publicly about their support for another tuition freeze.
The Iowa Board of Regents proposed the second tuition freeze in September, marking the first two-year tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students in 30 years. This is particularly important to UNI undergraduates when you consider:
The tuition freeze is predicated on receiving additional funding from the legislature and the governor. That’s important because UNI is more reliant on state appropriations since we collect significantly less revenue from out-of state tuition. The Board of Regents request includes:
UNI’s budget request also includes an incremental funding increase of 3.2 percent for the following programs:
UNI – Real Estate Education...................................................$129,312
UNI – Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center ...........$180,864
UNI – Economic Development………..$1,100,544
Skilled Worker Innovation Fund……………………………$928,800
UNI’s Strategic Initiatives request includes:
Establishing a Bachelor of Applied Sciences ........................... $3M (over two years)
With an initial cohort of 160 community college graduates, this degree program will serve the needs of working and place-bound Iowans in both rural and urban communities, enhance community college partnerships, and strengthen skills available to business and industry within the state.
Entrepreneur Outreach Program .....................................................................$1.5M
Services will be provided to entrepreneurs in all regions of Iowa and will also expand the culture of entrepreneurship on the UNI campus by serving students and faculty.
Governor’s STEM Advisory Council Initiative.......................... $5.2M
Our Capital Projects Request:
Schindler Education Center Renovation………………………..$3M
(1st of 4-year request; total project is $31.6M)
If you have any questions about our budget request or the legislative process, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I also encourage you to sign up for Panther Caucus on UNI’s Alumni Association webpage and to contact your local Senator or Representative.