Thursday, March 26, 2015

NDACo Week 12 Legislative Report

The floor sessions continue to increase in length, as the policy committees are rapidly wrapping up their work.  Several committees are done, or all but done, with their deliberations and await conference committee assignments.  The sense of many seasoned legislators however, is that there are fewer policy issues for conference and the focus will be all on appropriations very shortly.

As reported earlier, this week included an excellent showing of county officials in opposition to the “mills to cents” bill (HB1005).  Likewise, the County Recorders appeared in great strength to oppose a study effort to examine a “flat rate” recording fee structure.  We are very hopeful on both of these issues.

The poorly defined shift of property taxes for “agritourism” buildings (SB2339) made it to the House floor on Thursday with a Do Not Pass recommendation, but the debate about the Sanford health insurance contract for NDPERS took too long and left it as the first item for debate on Friday.  County officials have done a great job of communicating the problems with this proposal – but don’t stop.  It will be probably debated at 12:35 tomorrow – tune in on the web for the action.

As you will see below, next week will have very few formal hearings, and most of those are Appropriations “rehearings” of policy bills that have money attached.  One first hearing however is of critical importance to all counties.  HB1176 proposes an adjustment to the Gross Production Tax distribution formula for oil counties and includes $112 million for non-oil counties.  The message we hope to communicate is that the restrictions placed on the “Surge” funding resulted in some very important county projections becoming ineligible, and we don’t want to see those extreme limitations on the HB1176 funding.

In the property tax area, the House killed the “assessor training” bill (SB2054) although it was greatly amended when it reached the floor.  The bill would have allowed township assessors to continue with 24 hours of training (rather than 180) but it gave county commissions the ability to assume local assessing in a township where it was being done improperly. 

The Governor’s Property Tax Reform bill (SB2144) came out of the House Committee with a strong Do Pass recommendation this week, and will likely be on the floor next week. 

On the election front, the proposal to reduce the availability of absentee and mail ballots to 21 (rather than 40) days was given a Do Not Pass recommendation by the Senate GVA committee today. 

A new, optional authority for county boards (by commission resolution) to borrow up to $500,000 for up to 5 years without going to a citizen vote (HB1194) was given a Do Pass recommendation in the Senate.

As all bills with more than a $5,000 budget impact must be out of policy committees by next Monday, look for some important committee action on property tax relief, county social service funding, senior mill match, and others early next week.

Take a look, don’t hesitate to email questions, keep in contact with our legislators and stay tuned, we may need some immediate support.
Time Bill Number Description Committee Room
Monday 3/30    
8:30 HB 1081 J Dedicated turkey license for sick youth  Senate Approp.  Harvest 
9:00 HB 1158R **** Remove game and fish license from auditors  Senate Approp.  Harvest 
9:30 HCR 3004 J Study best practices for forensic death investigation  Senate Human Ser. Red River 
10:00HB 1176 A **** GPT formula change - hub city, non-oil county funding   Senate Approp.  Harvest 
11:00 HB 1409 X * Increases outdoor heritage fund to $40 million per biennium, refines purposes  Senate Approp.  Harvest 
Tuesday 3/31    
9:15 HB 1372 L 100K for finding agent orange victims  Senate Approp.  Harvest 
10:00 HB 1359 S DHS to review rates for basic care facilities  Senate Approp.  Harvest 
Wednesday 4/1    
8:30 HB 1046 S Appropriation for traumatic brain injury registry  Senate Approp.  Harvest 
9:00 HB 1223 C Major reduction of income tax rates  Senate Approp.  Harvest 
9:30 HB 1059 B ** Extends state-paid property tax relief to in-lieu payments by utilities  Senate Approp.  Harvest 
Thursday 4/2    
9:00 HCR 3028 J Study creating, funding emergency response centers in rural areas  Senate Pol. Subs. Red River 
9:45 HCR 3039 R * Study software needs of cities and counties to get property tax info online  Senate Pol. Subs. Red River 
Friday 4/3    
9:00 HB 1217 J Can't evict renter solely because they are violence victim Senate Pol. Subs. Red River 

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