Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lawmakers Vote on Social Service Funding, Radio funding and Caps

It was a busy afternoon in the House and Senate chambers with lawmakers voting on three of our top priority bills. We are pleased with how the bills moved out of the two chambers. But with these three bills, they will more than likely head to conference committees.
House Passes SB 2206 (Social Service Funding)
Representatives passed SB 2206 with a vote of 75-15. But that was following a lengthy political debate focused on the loss of the 12% property tax buy-down. Monday's blog post has more details about the amendments to SB2206. Essentially, it the bill authorized $161 million to fund county social services as part of a statewide two year pilot program. The payments are based on 2015 caseloads.The amendment removed inflators and weighting factors. It also repealed the 12% property tax buy-down. By doing that, it also changed the formula as initially proposed so that the "taxpayer equity"was eliminated from the bill. Property taxes will decrease based on what the county levies for social services. Under this bill, up to 20 mills are completely removed from the county's levy authority for county social services. This bill will be moving to conference committee this week.
Senate Approves 911 Tax to Fund Radios in HB1178
Senators voted 31-16 to approve HB1178 which will increase 9-1-1 taxes per line .50 in order to fund a new statewide interoperable radio network (SIRN) for law enforcement and first responders. The bill was amended that clarifies where the money goes and what it is to be used for. It also authorizes a loan from the Bank of North Dakota to be used to get the project started using revenues from the fee.
Senate Kills "Caps"Amendments, Approves Reporting Requirement in HB1361
The Senate passed HB1361 but not before dividing sections of the bill on the floor and defeating sections of the bill most concerning to local governments. Senators killed the amendments that would have created a citizen petition for a vote on "capping"the growth of property taxes levied by a taxing district to 3%. They also shot down the section that would have made the amendment effective this year. What stays in the bill, is the requirement for counties to forward certain property tax data from taxing districts to the State Tax Department, so that they can prepare an annual statewide report on property tax increases.

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