Friday, April 7, 2017

NDACo Legislative Report #15

You are probably wondering: “Why didn’t I get this report yesterday?”  Well, as so little progress was made on the remaining county issues in the first four days of the week, and there was an expectation that two big bills would see action on Friday, we waited. 

Guess what! Nothing happened on Friday.  Once again, the House delayed action on SB2206 – Social Service Funding, three conference committees met without agreeing, and HB1361 – Revised cap bill, was delayed until next week.

So maybe we could tell you to read last week’s report again, but we won’t.  We can actually talk more in depth about why nothing appeared to happen.

We have reported that SB2206 was amended in the House Finance & Taxation Committee to turn it into another two-year study of the issue. In most instances, the entire House adopts all committee amendments without debate.  There was notice given that this was not “most instances” and a request would be made to separately debate that amendment.  Both the bill’s supporters, and those not wishing to deliver property tax relief in this manner, started working hard to see who they could convince to vote their way.  As the week dragged on, it became obvious that those supporting the study amendment were in the minority.

If the amendment to SB2206 was defeated, the House would immediately have the bill as passed by the Senate and if that then was passed, there could be no conference committee and no further deliberations.  The opponents of the concept have (apparently) decided the safer course is to take the bill back into committee and amend the bill in a manner that will allow it to go forward – however we are unsure what those amendments might all include, so Monday may be a very important day for this bill.

HB1361, the “cap bill” has also had an interesting week.  As reported in our earlier blog post, a “hog-house” amendment turned the bill into something quite different.  The amendment included additional data elements that counties would have to report to the Tax Dept. and in turn, the Tax Dept. would turn into an annual report on property tax increases by jurisdiction.  The other part of amendment was a provision allowing citizens to petition onto a June ballot a one-year, 3% property tax freeze for a county, a city or a park district (but not schools).  Apparently this has been finding resistance within the Senate, as it was send back (rereferred) to the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee for further work at Friday’s floor session.

The Senate Finance & Taxation Committee finished its work on HB1178, the only remaining bill to address SIRN 20/20 (radio) costs.  This 50-cent fee on phone service, previously approved by the Senate, was amended to “sunset” after six years, add two legislators to the oversight committee, and provide additional restrictions on the use of the funds.

Also noted in an earlier blog post was recent activity on some of the bigger agency budgets.  Although there was considerable discontent about most of them in both chambers, they ultimately were passed to get them into conference committees for final negotiations. Budgets yet to be acted on (in the Senate) include HB1012-DHS and (in the House) SB2006 – Health Dept.  Significant changes make these almost surely candidates for conference as well.

Although there are no “regular” hearings next week, several of the conference committees meeting on county bills that have scheduled, and these are below.  These change hourly, and many more will be added during the week – particularly Tuesday, which will be devoted to conferences as there will be no floor session.

04/10/2017 09:30 AM 
SB 2015
DOCR Budget - amendment to allows refusal of inmates 
04/10/2017 10:00 AM 
SB 2200
Expands county 10-mill capital levy for airports 
Lewis and Clark 
04/10/2017 10:30 AM 
HB 1341
Changes to drug delivery, manufacturing penalties 
04/10/2017 10:30 AM 
SB 2224
Restores $500,000 to community service fund 
Sheyenne River 
04/10/2017 11:30 AM 
SB 2090
Child care licensing enhancements- 
Fort Lincoln 
04/10/2017 03:00 PM 
SB 2045
Remove Sunset on civil penalties for "fat" trucks 
Lewis and Clark 
04/11/2017 09:00 AM 
HB 1041
Sentence reduction, medical paroles, good time, drug offenses
04/11/2017 09:00 AM 
SB 2012
DOT Budget - proposed closure of 8 section shops 
04/11/2017 09:30 AM 
HB 1269
Adjustments to mandatory drug sentences 
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