Thursday, March 23, 2017

NDACo Legislative Report #13

A busy week, but not much to show for it.  Lots of committee work and a fair amount of “floor session” but not a lot of progress. 

Not of direct county concern, but of some historical interest, was House floor action on a city bill.  The cities requested the introduction of a bill to create a tiered structure for emergency levies, very similar to what was passed by the counties several sessions ago.  It would have allowed smaller cities to levy a greater number of mills, and retain a larger balance (in mills) in their emergency fund.  The interesting part was the bill was defeated on Monday by one vote, reconsidered and passed on Tuesday by one vote, and then reconsidered again and defeated by 2 votes on Wednesday.  Few can recall such a sequence of events.

Things like that, as well as debates over casino gaming, guns, and day care kept the Legislature from moving along as fast as leadership had hoped.  The goal of ending in 70 days is becoming less of a reality.

On the county front we saw two bills regarding indigent burial bills pass with one of the county amendments attached, but not the other.  Concerns remain as to how this will impact county costs going forward.

More positively, the House passed the Senate bill raising the public improvement bid limit for advertising from $100,000 to $150,000. This is now on the Governor’s desk.

The repeal of the “Truth in Taxation” notice requirement, and its replacement with a consolidated “preliminary tax estimate and meeting notice” was passed by the House (77-14) and the Senate immediately concurred.  This now goes to the Governor.

The Recorder fee bill (SB2340) was sent out of committee in a form that the county recorders felt was lacking, and it was rereferred to the Political Subdivisions Committee next week for more work. This bill was not requested by the Recorders and proposes more of a flat fee structure that has somewhat of an unknown impact to county revenues.

A major setback for the statewide radio project (SIRN) funding came as the state share of the project (SB2024) was defeated on the House floor after a half hour of debate.  This bill proposed a doubling of the penalties for traffic violations to go into a separate fund to support this major infrastructure improvement.  The “local share” remains alive in the Senate as a 50-cent phone charge in HB1178.

A few of the major bills still in committee include:
                Social Service Funding (SB2206)
                Caps on local property taxes (HB1361)
                County retention of penalties for “fat trucks” on county roads (SB2045)
                DOCR Budget – State authority to refuse inmates (SB2015)
                OMB Budget – public administrator funding (HB1015)
                Sec. of State Budget – possible inclusion of election equipment funding (HB1002)

Although the schedule below indicates very few hearings, there will be unpublished “rehearings” as legislation affecting the state’s budget get referred from policy committees to appropriations throughout the week.  There will also be a lot of quiet committee work as the more difficult issues become the focus.

Keep your legislators informed as they come home on weekends, and let them know how you feel about the issues.  The (very brief) hearing schedule on county bills follows.

Time


Room
Top of Form
Top of Form
Monday, 3/27


9:00
E * 
NDPERS Health to be self-insured 
House Industry, Business and Labor 
Peace Garden 
9:30
J ** 
D/A education - alcohol crimes by minors - funding for children's' behavioral health services 
Senate Appropriations 
Harvest 
Tuesday, 3/28


8:30
J ** 
Sentence reduction, medical paroles, good time, drug offenses - includes presumptive probation
Bottom of Form
Senate Appropriations 
Harvest 
Bottom of Form




               


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