Monday, November 24, 2008

Federal updates- lame duck session, inauguration

Federal Update

Lawmakers return for lame duck session

Congress returned to Washington this week for a lame duck session to pass an auto industry bailout package. Democratic leaders, however, put the bailout package on hold yesterday while the auto industry provides more of a business plan. Congressional leaders said they will return to Washington early December to review the plan, and said Congress would return on December 8 to consider a proposal to help the auto industry. According to The Hill, efforts by the three auto companies to get help from Congress this week seemed to backfire when lawmakers learned the auto company executives had traveled to Washington on corporate jets. Democratic leaders called the chief executives “arrogant” for demanding a taxpayer-funded rescue while traveling in style.

Also this week, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers conducted leadership elections and organized in advance of the 111th Congress. Anticipated in the early stages of the 111th Congress is the passing of the fiscal year 2009 appropriation bills, including the Labor-HHS-Education bill. Currently, the federal government is being funded under a continuing resolution which runs until early March.

The 2008 Elections: Implications for State Colleges and Universities

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has prepared a briefing entitled, “The 2008 Elections: Implications for State Colleges and Universities,” which can be found at This briefing gives context to the 2008 elections and details how the outcomes may affect American higher education. The analysis discusses the impact a Congressional majority and President-Elect Barack Obama's higher education platform may have on federal post-secondary education policy and reviews the changing landscape in state legislatures.

Congressional Timeline

  • November 16, 2008 - Begin orientation for incoming House freshmen
  • November 17, 2008 - Congress returns for a week long “lame-duck” session and hold leadership elections
  • December 8, 2008 - Congress potentially returns to take up auto industry bailout package
  • January 3, 2009 - Terms of members of the 111th Congress commence (as written in the Constitution)
  • January 6, 2009 - 111th Congress convenes and new Members are sworn in
  • January 20, 2009 - Inauguration Day
  • February 2, 2009 - President submits his budget to Congress (by law it is required by the first Monday in February each year).

President-Elect Obama Transition

President-Elect Barack Obama has been busy putting together his transition team and office, which will be located near Judiciary Square in downtown Washington, D.C. The new official transition website,, is available with information regarding the new administration appointments and the presidential agenda. There has been much speculation regarding appointments within the new administration, with Minnesota’s own Congressman Peterson, Congressman Oberstar, and Congresswoman McCollum among the many names being floated for top Department posts. For more information regarding the approximately 3,000 political positions in the new Administration, the Government Printing Office has just released the 2008 Plum Book in print and PDF which can be accessed at


General information on Inauguration Day events can be obtained from the website for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies at Tickets to the Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony are free to the public but only available from members of Congress. To request tickets, you may call your Representative’s office at the numbers listed below and provide your name, home address and telephone number, and the number of tickets you would like. Due to limited quantities, it is advised to put in your request as soon as possible.

  • Congressman Tim Walz, District 1 - (202) 225-2472
  • Congressman John Kline, District 2 - (202) 225-2271
  • Congressman-elect Eric Paulsen, District 3 - (952) 934-8999
  • Congresswoman Betty McCollum, District 4 - (202) 225-6631
  • Congressman Keith Ellison, District 5 - (202) 225-4755
  • Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, District 6 - (202) 225-2331
  • Congressman Collin Peterson, District 7 - (202) 225-2165
  • Congressman Jim Oberstar, District 8 - (202) 225-6211
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar - (202) 224-3244

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election results are in

Legislative Update
November 6, 2008

Election Outcomes

While the dust has not yet settled on all of Tuesday’s election outcomes, the Minnesota State Legislature races have been determined. The Minnesota House of Representatives will have 23 new members when the 86th Legislative session begins on January 6, 2009. There are 12 new Republican members and 11 new DFL members. Democrats increased their numbers by two seats and now hold 87 seats. Ninety votes are needed for a gubernatorial override. Republicans retained enough seats to ensure against a veto-override majority, and now sit at 47 seats.

Final numbers will not be certified until the State Canvassing Board meets later this month. In addition to a close review of the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken, the Office of the Secretary of State may determine that two House races will require a recount:
District 12B incumbent Al Doty, DFL-Royalton, leads Mike Lemieur by 76 votes
District 16A incumbent Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, trails Gail Kulick Jackson by 99 votes

New members-elect include:

Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck
Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis
Greg Davids, R-Preston
Connie Doepke, R-Wayzata
Keith Downey, R-Edina
Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock
Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis
Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna
Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing
Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake
Gail Kulick Jackson, DFL-Milaca - pending possible recount
Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie
Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley
Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail
Jerry Newton, DFL-Coon Rapids
Mike Obermueller, DFL-Eagan
John Persell, DFL-Bemidji
Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth
Paul Rosenthal, DFL-Edina
Tim Sanders, R-Blaine
Peggy Scott, R-Andover
Phil Sterner, DFL-Rosemount
Paul Torkelson, R-St. James

The 2008 Election Directory of the 2009-2010 Minnesota Legislature is now available based on unofficial results compiled by the Office of the Secretary of State:

The membership roster for 2009-2019 is also available on line at:
As the 2009 legislative session approaches, the 23 new members, along with the 111 incumbents, will be faced with a potential multi-billion dollar budget deficit. Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm said, “We’ll wait to see what the budget forecast is at the end of November, and see what the governor comes up with. We have to do our work and oversight and then see what comes out of the February forecast before we can really figure out what the size of the issue will be.” Sertich also said that the plan is to reach out to the minority caucus and Gov. Tim Pawlenty to construct bipartisan solutions.

Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, noted that the election results were not as bad as they could have been. He said many members of his caucus are relieved that Democrats fell short of their goal of achieving a 90-person supermajority, which would have allowed them to override a gubernatorial veto.

If interested, the House of Representatives television archives web page has posted post-election press conferences held Wednesday of this week. Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, and Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, both held press conferences to discuss the election results. You may view them at

On the federal side, the 111th Congress begins at noon January 3, 2009. Minnesota will send one new member to the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Jim Ramstad from District 3 retired and will be replaced by Congressman-elect Erik Paulsen. The outcome of the U.S. Senate race is yet to be finalized. With less than 500 votes dividing the two candidates, there will be an automatic recount.

Minnesota Congressional Representatives:
District 1: Tim Walz (DFL)
District 2: John Kline (R)
District 3: Erik Paulsen (NEW - R)
District 4: Betty McCollum (DFL)
District 5: Keith Ellison (DFL)
District 6: Michele Bachmann (R)
District 7: Collin Peterson (DFL)
District 8: Jim Oberstar (DFL)

What do the presidential election results mean for higher education? During President-elect Obama’s campaign, he discussed policy issues and proposals dealing with higher education. Inside Higher Ed shares some of the highlights of Obama’s higher education platform, including loan program reforms, access to higher education through a tax credit to cover the first $4,000 in college costs, grant program for community colleges, science and technology investments and affirmative action. You may read more at