Thursday, March 30, 2017

NDACo Legislative Report #14

Well today (Friday) is the 59th day of the Session, and if the Legislature is serious about adjourning in less than 80 days, they have less than 3 weeks to go.  While most bills have been reported out of committee, a few have not yet made the transition. A number of the “big agency budgets” are still seeing committee work, and a few significant policy bills haven’t seen a committee recommendation.  On the “county priority list”, those in this category include:

HB1361 – Property Tax Caps
HB1178 – SIRN – Interoperable radio funding
SB2344 – Medical Marijuana
HB1012 – DHS Budget
SB2004 – Health Dept. Budget – public health funding
SB2015 – DOCR Budget
HB1015 – OMB Budget – Public Administrator Funding

We have seen some proposed amendments to the “cap bill”, and so far we are encouraged that it will be amended into more of a research and reporting bill.  We expect to see this come out of committee early next week.

We remain hopeful that the SIRN funding proposal will NOT be amended in the Senate, so that a straight up or down vote on the Senate floor will decide its fate.

The rewrite of the medical marijuana initiated measure remains a difficult balancing act for the committee, as they try to make it workable without facing a referral effort by the measure supporters.  We continue to work to allow reasonable controls within local government.

Of course the big news of the week has already been reported on this blog, and was the subject of our recent “Common Ground” publication.  The Chairman of the House Finance and Taxation Committee surprised that committee on Wednesday with amendments for SB2206 (Social Service Funding) that replaced the entire bill with another 2-year study of the issue.  As keeping the bill alive for conference committee debate is our last and best hope for this proposal, we are, of course, hoping for its passage.  That said, we are asking all county officials to take every opportunity to urge their Senators and Representatives to restore the proposal and work for “sustainable property tax relief through social service funding.”  Only with significant pressure on the entire legislature is it likely that the conference committee will return the bill to the floor in an acceptable manner.

Also this week (Thursday) saw the (hopefully) final resolution of the Recorders’ “fee bill” requested by the abstract industry.  After several attempts at trying to work “around” the recorders, the Political Subdivisions Committee told the industry to come back with something that the Recorders agree will not shift costs to property tax payers.  It looks like that has finally happened.  It was great to see a sizeable contingent of recorders in the capitol to make it happen.

Both the House and Senate began appointing conference committees on Thursday, and much of next week will be devoted to ironing out the differences between the two bodies.  Only one bill (below) is scheduled for a formal hearing next week, although there will be plenty of action in appropriations committees and in the conferences if you are interested. 

Don’t hesitate to email our team with questions, and make sure your own legislators know how you feel. 

Monday 4/3 10:30
NDPERS Health to be self-insured
Senate GVA
Sheyenne River Rm

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