MN Policy Conference Program

Welcome to the Minnesota Policy Conference. This year's event begins at 7:30 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast. Sessions begin at 8:30 a.m., with the keynote presentation by Dr. Eric Jolly, followed by a full day of energy policy-related sessions moderated and presented by local and national energy all-stars.

Enjoy a catered lunch starting at 11:45 a.m. and breaks at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. gather and network with colleagues and industry professionals in the Meridian Foyer.

Opening Session 8:30–10:00 am 

Exploring Where Philanthropy and Public Policy Meet

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Eric Jolly, President and CEO, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners


Last year, the USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy held a forum to examine what happens at the intersection between government and philanthropy to create impact. National issues including health care, urban redevelopment, civic involvement, and capacity building provided a rich basis for opportunity and partnership. In Minnesota, where does philanthropy meet public policy? Is philanthropy leading government ... or following government's lead? What should we be turning our eyes to for the future?

10:00 a.m. Break

10:30–11:45 am

Session 1: Evidence for Causal Claims: Getting to Cause and Effect

Moderator: Peter Bodurtha, Hennepin County Center for Innovation and Excellence
Speakers: Ellen Bendewald, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development; Weston Merrick, Minnesota Management & Budget

Making a causal claim is an intuitive and powerful way to communicate the impact of a program. Typically, however, analyses can only arrive at correlation. This presentation will provide tangible steps to increase the use of causal inference. Using examples from MMB and DEED, the presenters will illustrate the method’s nuts and bolts, from reviewing literature to estimating outcomes. The panel will also discuss finding resources to conduct this research.

Session 2: State and Local Climate Action In a Time of Denial

Moderator: Paul Anton, Anton Economics
Speakers: Adam Duininck; Anne Hunt, City of Saint Paul; J. Drake Hamilton, Fresh Energy

Even if federal policies are temporarily derailed by climate denial, there is much that states, regions, and municipalities can do to fight climate change, help achieve the goals of COP21, and adapt to the climate changes that have already taken place. Three involved policy experts will discuss what is already being done and what additional actions are available to units of government.

Session 3: Moving Policy Work Beyond Diversity to Real Equity

Moderator: Jeff Schiff, Minnesota Department of Human Services
Speakers: Anthony Stately, Native American Community Clinic; Erin Sullivan Sutton, Minnesota Department of Human Services;
Justine Nelson, Minnesota Department of Human Services

Who are the Medicaid enrollees who experience the greatest number of health disparities? Learn about what the Minnesota Department of Human Services is doing to identify these individuals and the interventions at play that may improve these outcomes.

Session 4: Comparing Business Climate and Competitiveness Studies – What Do They REALLY Tell Us?

Moderator: Katherine Schill, Minnesota House of Representatives
Speakers: Mark Haveman, Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence; Peter Fisher, Iowa Policy Project

In 2015, CNBC lauded Minnesota as the Top State for Business, “with one of the healthiest economies in the nation” while the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce claimed that business costs here are among the highest in the nation. How can both be true? What do business climate and business competitiveness studies really say about Minnesota, and what message do they convey for policy-making? This session will compare various studies and offer suggestions for their utility in the decision-making process.

11:45 a.m. Lunch

12:45–2:00 pm

Session 5: The Next 30 Years of Regional Development: Peering Into the Future

Moderator: Beth Kittelson, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Speakers: Todd Graham, Metropolitan Council

How do we predict and prepare for the next 30 years in our region? This session will present methods and variables used in preparing economic and sociodemographic forecasts, discuss changes on the way, and provide examples of policy and program actions built to address these predicted changes. Attendees will learn how to see into the future.

Session 6: Federal Health Care Reform in Minnesota 

Moderator: Elizabeth Lukanen, State Health Access Data Assistance Center, University of Minnesota
Speakers: Peter Brickwedde, Minnesota Department of Commerce; Elizabeth Lukanen, State Health Access Data Assistance Center, University of Minnesota; Peter Nelson, Center of the American Experiment; Stacie Weeks, Minnesota Department of Human Services

How has the Affordable Care Act changed the way Minnesotans have access to health care? What would new federal legislation do to improve access issues and how might this affect Minnesotans? Are there alternative solutions at the state level to address these issues? Health policy experts will discuss these and other topics related to health care reform.

Session 7: The Minnesota Rural Equity Project

Moderator: Matt Schmit, Growth and Justice
Speakers: Ann Mulholland, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners; Will Kaul, Great River Energy; Cheryal Hills, Minnesota Education Equity Partnership

What kinds of state policies, public investments, business incentives, and local initiatives will work best to strengthen Greater Minnesota communities, revitalize local economies, and reduce inequality, poverty and racial disparity? This collaborative effort by four statewide organizations will provide answers to this momentous and timely question.

Session 8: How Are States Managing Changes in the State-Federal Relationship? What Does this Mean for Local Governments? 

Moderator: Esme Murphy, WCCO
Speakers: Cate Zeuske (invited), Wisconsin Department of Administration; Larry Jacobs, Hubert H Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota; 
Scott Neitzel (invited), Wisconsin Department of Administration

Because state governments existed before the creation of the federal government, the U.S. Constitution identifies those enumerated powers of the federal government, while also recognizing the rights and responsibilities of state governments. Given the far-reaching changes of the Trump administration, how are states responding to policy decisions that affect state laws and state budgets?

2:00 p.m. Break

2:15–3:30 pm

Session 9: Measuring Neighborhood Change: Three Recent Approaches 

Moderator: Dan Marckel, Metropolitan Council
Speakers: Baris Gumus-Dawes, Metropolitan Council; Bob Streetar, City of Oakdale; Ed Goetz, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota

Analyzing and acting on neighborhood change can take many forms. This session will compare and contrast three recent data projects with different emphases: gentrification within Minneapolis and Saint Paul; transitions in suburbs across the metropolitan region, and fine-grained changes and policy actions in a single suburban city. Attendees will learn how to focus their own analysis for maximum impact.

Session 10: Mini-Workshop: Applying the Design Process to Policy Formation 

Moderator and Speaker: Thomas Fisher, Minnesota Design Center, University of Minnesota

The same process used to design buildings can also be applied to reimagine the invisible structures of services and systems that we depend on in our daily lives. Building on his plenary address at last year’s Policy Conference, Thomas Fisher offers concrete advice on how to improve policies in areas as diverse as education, politics, economics, and public health.

Session 11: The Ever-Changing Media Landscape - How to Tell Your Story 

Moderator: Peter Bodurtha, Hennepin County Center for Innovation and Excellence
Speakers: Carolyn Marinan, Hennepin County; Kevin Duchschere, Star Tribune; Mary Tan, City of Brooklyn Park 

The explosion of social media, a news cycle that never ends and expectations for instant answers has changed how organizations interact with the media – and the general public. Join the conversation with communications experts as we discuss how to navigate this fast-paced landscape and tell your story in a world where the camera is always on, the news cycle is 24/7 and everyone is a journalist.

Session 12: Identifying A Clearer Pathway: How to Move from Data Collection to Policy and Improved Practice 

Moderator: Rachel Vilsack, Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development
Speakers: Cael Warren, Wilder Foundation; Jennifer Trost, Century College; Stephanie Hogenson, Children's Defense Fund MN; Susan Bower, Minnesota State Demographic Center.

Minnesota’s State Longitudinal Education Data System (SLEDS) and recently launched Early Childhood Education Data System (ECLDS) bring together data from multiple state agencies and which are now available for public use. Hear from panelists, representing organizations who are using SLEDS and ECLDS data, to better identify pathways, improve outcomes, and inform decisions to support and advance education and workforce policy at state and local levels.

3:30 p.m. Break

Closing Session 3:30–4:30 pm

Closing Session: The Urban/Rural Divide: Creating Partnerships to Tackle Inequities 

Moderator: Kristen Norman-Major, Hamline University
Speaker: Kara Carlisle, McKnight Foundation; Scott Peterson, Schwan's Company; Brad Finstad, Center for Rural Policy and Development

In many areas of public policy, forming partnerships to address multi-faceted challenges is proving to be a fruitful strategy. One of the most enduring inequities in Minnesota has been the divide between urban and rural areas, in incomes and resources - and the growth of minority populations in Greater Minnesota has added an extra layer of complexity. An engaged panel will discuss current partnership initiatives to address this urban/rural divide and promising avenues for future progress.