Representatives have picked up the pace this week in getting through state agency budget bills.
The Department of Transportation budget includes the closure of eight rural maintance section sites and a number of rural drivers license sites. The bill authorizes DOT to negotiate with counties to lease the 8 shops. The shops to be closed are located in New England, Starkweather, Fessenden, Courtenay, Gackle, Litchville, Finley and Mayville.
On top of the major reduction of employees, there are zero dollars for one time funding for 2017-2019 biennium. In total, the budget decreases from $2.7 billion to $1.2 billion.
Another budget bill with county implications is the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget. Their budget includes provisions that are recommendations from the Justice Reinvention study done during the interim. Six behavior health specialists will be added to develop community based programs. Representative Jon Nelson told fellow House members that 75% of inmates at the state pen need behavioral health services.
The bill also allows options to the Prison and local correctional facilities to better manage their inmate population. This would allow facilities to prioritize their population and consider programs for alternatives to housing inmates in the jail or prison.
Probably one of the most concerning provisions, from the counties perspective, is the prioritization of the admission of inmates to DOCR. DOCR may refuse to admit inmates sentenced to DOCR when they are at capacity. This means that even though the inmate has been sentenced to the prison, they will continue to be held at the county or regional jail.