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Thursday, February 24, 2005 - Volume 17, Issue 17

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UMM students spent the day Wednesday at the Capitol trying to lobby legislators to support the University of Minnesota. The two issues this session were the bonding bill and the general budget.

Students converge on state capitol to lobby for funds

Maroon and Gold Day full of fun, fellowship, and some partisan yelling

Staff Writer

This year was a big one for the University of Minnesota at the legislature. The reason is primarily found in the joy of partisan politics in the previous session. As a result, the University had double duty this year in the legislature. Not only was the biannual operating budget up for consideration, but the bonding bill that never got through last year needs to be considered as well. Any legislator spoken to realized this urgency, and in the words of the former Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger, "We're all excited to get this done."

The Senate passed their version of the bonding bill early, essentially granting all of the University's requests, only to leave the dirty work for conference committee. As far as Morris is concerned, the House of Representatives and the Governor feel the plans for a biomass plant should be granted but currently are seeking not to grant capital funding for the proposed football field.

Many of the student lobbyists from Morris thought the day was a good learning experience and important in the legislative process. Tim Lindberg thought Lobby Day was "a good opportunity to have personal contact with our elected representatives and make sure they're aware of the current situation in higher education, and specifically for Morris and our important request for the biomass facility and shared football field."

In all, about 80 students ventured forth from Morris early Wednesday morning for a day of fun, fellowship, and civilized discussion with our legislators.

Not to pretend that partisan politics isn't alive and well in St. Paul. According to one Morris lobbyist, "Senator Dean Johnson, Majority Leader of the Senate, was extremely rude and verbally stated that none of the legislators were going to listen to the college kids in the capital. He also shared his belief that all college students are about drinking and partying. All this animosity was inserted between snide comments about the Governor and his cronies."

Similar attitudes from other legislatures prompted Sara Kloek to provide all of the students in the University reason to keep fighting for what we believed in. "It's hard when politicians don't pay attention to young people. They give the reason that young people don't care. Young people need to prove that we do care, so we do get the help when we need it the most. Get involved and prove that we do care. Also, this is the fourth year in a row that my Senator Michele Bachman didn't meet with me. Someday, I hope she will decide to listen to her constituents."

But even if Senator Bachman still won't listen to Sara, the University is hoping enough of the legislators did have the time to listen.

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