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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

MN Chamber of Commerce, Education Minnesota spent big money to lobby

Interest groups spent less slightly money lobbying state government in 2015 than in the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. 

As in past years, major business groups and labor unions shelled out the most money to try to influence the decisions of lawmakers, the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton and city governments.

Groups spent $69.1 million lobbying in 2015, down from $70.3 million in 2014 and a recent high of $74.8 million in 2013.

The decline was notable given that 2015 was a budget year entailing a lengthy legislative session, when lawmakers decided on the state's two-year, $42 billion budget. The state budget can affect hundreds of private interests, including contractors and vendors, labor unions, hospitals and others with a big stake in the state's fiscal plans.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership -- the latter representing the state's biggest blue chip companies -- together spent $3.5 million lobbying government. 

Education Minnesota, the state's powerful teachers union, spent nearly $1 million. 

Big energy companies like Enbridge Energy Partners and Xcel Energy Services also spent big sums, much of it to influence the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Local government spent heavily to influence the Legislature and the Dayton Administration. The League of Cities and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities together spent more than $1.3 million lobbying. 

In all cases, most of the money is spent on salaries. 

The report can be found here

Dayton appoints six members to Minnesota State Board of Trustees

Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday announced six new appointments to the Minnesota State Board of Trustees.

The board is charged with Minnesota State's system planning, fiscal management, setting tuition and fees, among other responsibilities. Minnesota State, formerly known as the Minnesota State Colleges and University System (MnSCU), consists of 37 schools throughout the state.  

The appointees include two college students, a former state legislator, a former college professor, and two business executives.

They are Basil Ajuo of Brooklyn Park, Amanda Fredlund of Mora, Jerry Janezich of Side Lake, Rodolfo Rodriguez of Maple Grove, Cheryl Tefer of Andover and Michael Vekich of St. Louis Park.

Ajuo and Fredlund, the two students appointed, will serve until summer 2018. The other four appointees will serve until summer 2022.

“These Minnesotans are well equipped to help guide the future of MnSCU, and ensure its students receive world-class educations,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement. “These members, and the entire Board, will help further MnSCU’s mission of providing Minnesotans with high-quality learning opportunities that prepare them for success in the workplace and in life.”