Thursday, February 19, 2015

Week 7 Report

The Legislators have set an informal deadline of next Thursday Noon for achieving "cross-over", so today (Friday) and next week will be devoted to almost continuous floor sessions.  You will see that reflected in the almost non-existent hearing schedule below.
The House and Senate caucuses met Wednesday night to work on reaching agreement on amendments to SB2103, the Surge.  They apparently reached consensus on changes that are acceptable enough to both the House and the Senate to avoid a conference committee, as discussed in the previous post (below).  There is further funding for county road infrastructure included in the "formula bill" (HB1176), but that will likely be targeted for 2016, and highly dependent upon the March revenue projections.

If you have been watching the blog this week, you have gotten some of the other recent highlights, so some of the information below will be a repeat, but in case you missed it........ 

HB1158 to remove county auditors as game & fish license administrators was passed in the House with a 92-0 vote.

HB1421, The House version of the tobacco tax failed last Friday in the House and SB2322, the Senate’s version of the tobacco tax failed Wednesday in the Senate.  The Heart, Lung and other anti-smoking organizations are expected to now take this to the ballot, and whether county public health will be included in the distribution of future tax revenues is unknown at this time.

Three separate enhancements to the State Aid Distribution Fund were defeated in the House - two versions sponsored by former county commissioner, now Representative, Jerry Kelsh, and one that would have pushed the new money back out based on tax collections sponsored by Rep. Sukut.
SB2038 failed 8-39 in the Senate.  This would have required all new state employees to be covered by a "defined contribution" retirement plan, rather than the current "defined benefit" plan.  Although this did not directly, or immediately, impact counties in the NDPERS system, it would have forced dramatic increases for counties as the current fund became smaller and smaller.

SB2144, the Governor's Property Tax Reform Task Force plan was passed unanimously in the Senate.

SB2206, to shift $23 Million in Social Service Grant Costs from counties to the state, and create a commission to determine how to create a reimbursement structure for staff costs passed the Senate 46-1

SB2260, an interesting proposal to create a $20 economic impact grant fund for non-oil related impacts was defeated in the Senate 17-29, however a somewhat similar proposal (HB1318) was passed in the House but without an appropriation - Theory: Keep it alive to see if there is money later.

SB2315, raising the liability limit for political subdivisions from the $500,000 per incident set back in the 1970's to $1 million was passed unanimously in the Senate.  This is not expected to have an immediate effect on NDIRF premiums. 

SB2339.  The Senate passed this bill (25-22) to exempt from property tax, buildings used on a farm for "Agri-Tourism" - despite the fact that it was clearly pointed out that this was a tax shift, and the bill was so poorly worded, it might be difficult to determine who does or doesn't become exempt.  This will need serious attention in the House.

 We hope to summarize all of the key county bills next week, once cross-over is achieved.

Time Bill Number Description Committee Room
Monday 2/23    
9:00 HCR 3039 R * Study software needs of cities and counties to get property tax info online  House Finance and Taxation  Fort Totten 
9:15 SB 2065 S Local rather than regional long-term care ombudsmen - role redefined  House Human Services  Fort Union 
9:15 SB 2068 R Clarifies statement of full consideration or exemption for recording deeds  House Finance and Taxation  Fort Totten 
9:15 SB 2081 S Modifies some foster home definitions, group home from 10 to 13 children  House Human Services  Fort Union 
10:00 SB 2059 I Workers compensation, definition of compensation job offers  House Ind, Bus. & Labor  Peace Garden 
10:00 SB 2060 I Workers compensation - chronic opioid therapy covered   House Ind, Bus. & Labor  Peace Garden 
11:00 HCR 3013 A Constitutional measure to allow direct payments to ND residents  House Judiciary  Prairie 
No Scheduled Hearings after Monday    

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