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Minnesota Horizons: A Brief History

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

The first Minnesota Horizons conference was organized in 1975 to provide legislators with an opportunity to look beyond the current crisis, the recent problem, and the hasty solution of the moment. Instead the conference provided a view "over the horizon" to see the approaching demographic, social, fiscal, and economic realities and to foster discussion about those coming conditions. Early Horizons conferences used local experts and testimony; later conferences sought national figures. The Horizons conference has been held occasionally over the last three decades. This is a brief history of the Horizons meetings.

January 14, 15, 16 (mornings)
St. Paul Technical-Vocational Institute
Where Minnesota has Been, Where it is, Where it Might be Heading
Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate and representatives state agencies, public interest groups, and local government were invited. Sessions were broadcast live on public radio and video taped for rebroadcast on public television,
Seventeen papers were presented during six 90-minute sessions. Topics included:
  • Minnesota's population and economy,
  • Minnesota's physical environment (land use planning, agriculture and other resource industries),
  • Minnesota's human environment (health, human services, and education)
Horizons II
The sessions at the second Horizons meeting focused on issues of importance to Minnesota. Topics included: education, energy, households and housing, labor force and jobs, land use and settlement, population change, and transportation.
January 18,19, 20
Minnesota in the Eighties
This non-partisan seminar considered key issues expected to dominate state and national government debate in the 1980s. Sessions were broadcast live and by tape delay on public broadcasting.
The conference focused on Minnesota's economy. Topics included:
  • The Economy: National & State Issues
  • Minnesota's People: The Primary Resource
  • Minnesota's Economy: Resources for the Future
  • Meeting Minnesota's Human Needs
  • Financing Minnesota's Public Services
January 15, 16, 17
St. Paul Technical College
New Approaches to Problem Solving
Conference speakers addressed the need to be open to creative solutions for seemingly insolvable problems and to question existing policy paradigms. Presentations highlighted innovative programs ranging from children's issues to local finance.
January 13
Minnesota History Center
Competitiveness: Foundations for the Future
A one day meeting was held at the History Center. Topics included:
  • Demographic Implications for the Future
  • Policy Needs and Policy Gaps (industry panel)
  • Creating the modern workforce
  • Policy Challenges for Legislators (panel)
January 4
Science Museum of Minnesota
A Prosperous Minnesota in 2010
A one day meeting was held at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Topics included:
  • A Call for Leadership: Building a Prosperous Minnesota in 2010
  • Minnesota's People: Who We Were, Who We Now Are, Who We Will Be in 2010
  • Minnesota's Economy: Determining How Prosperous We Will Be in 2010
  • Minnesota's Policies: Available and Effective Ways to Foster Prosperity in 2010
  • The New Economy: What Is It and What Does It Mean for 2010?
January 31
St. Paul Technical College
A Changing State in a Changing World*
This one day program for legislators and legislative staff focused on the changing face of Minnesota's population and the challenges and opportunities for governments and public investments.
The topics included:
  • Minnesota's changing demography
  • In their own words - perspectives from changing communities Public infrastructure - lessons learned and guiding principles
  • A reflection on the tragic events of September 11, 2001 (keynote address by Aaron Brown CNN news anchor)
*Note: For video coverage of the sessions, see the January 2002 section of the Minnesota Senate Media Coverage Archive Collection. See also a Session Weekly article (2/1/2002)
January 15
St. Paul Radisson Riverfront
Leadership: Making Good Decisions in Tough Times
The Blandin Foundation organized and facilitated the afternoon session for legislators and legislative staff. The program focused on developing leadership in difficult times. David Gergen, political commentator, adviser to four presidents and Harvard professor, was the featured speaker. His address focused on the challenges of leadership in the current political and economic climate. The remainder of the afternoon was devoted to facilitated discussions of the leadership themes identified in Mr. Gergen's speech and the application of those themes to the legislature and the legislative session. The program was followed by a reception.