Thursday, June 18, 2015

County Social Services Financing Working Group Meets

First ever meeting of the County Social Services Working Group. This group will work on developing a proposed transition plan for transferring the costs of operating social services programs from county property tax levies to state general fund appropriations. Representing counties are: Kim Jacobson, Traill Co Social Services Director; Steve Reiser, McLean Co Social Service Director; Randy Suckut, Wells Co Commissioner; Mike Montplaisir, Cass Co Auditor and Terry Traynor, NDACo. The group will report and assist an interim legislative committee assigned to study this issue. Read the full story here:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ND Lawmakers Return to Finish Business

Legislators returned to the Capitol to wrap up their work on Senate Bill 2022, the state's Retirement and Investment Office and Public Employees Retirement System budget. Legislators left in May without passing the budget bill due to the House and Senate being unable to reach a compromise. Lawmakers met prior to this week to work on a compromise to present to both the House and Senate chambers. Still, several lawmakers stood up on the floor to criticize the legislative process used to get to this point.

Lawmakers were also given an update on oil tax revenues for the 2015-2017 biennium since oil prices were above the threshold to avoid hitting an oil tax trigger. The Office of Management and Budget says an increase of $527 million in oil taxes can be anticipated due to the trigger not hitting. That figure is based on a production of 1.1 million barrels and the average price of oil in May. The additional revenues will be spread amongst several state funds. The greatest fund to benefit from the additional dollars is the strategic investment and improvements fund which is used to fund infrastructure projects. 

ND House Passes "Waters of the U.S." Resolution

North Dakota House members used the opportunity during their special session to pass a resolution. The resolution urges Congress to invalidate the rules adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Army Corps of Engineers defining the "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act. The resolution says the state of North Dakota contains many water resources, the use of which for agriculture, municipal water supply, and economic health is needed and the rules will needlessly complicate and may prohibit the safe and intelligent development and management of the state's water resources.
Representative Craig Headland brought the resolution forward. He told House members, "our property owners should know we have their backs on this. We need to help our delegation. All three of them have issued statements against this rule. We need to be on the record, we need to take this opportunity to show we can not allow this lawlessness stand. This is federal overreach. We don't know the impacts, but it could be devastating to agriculture and industry in North Dakota." The resolution passed the House with a voice vote.
NDACo is also on record opposing the "Waters of the U.S." rule and has sent communication to North Dakota's delegation urging them to oppose the proposal. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

County Studies Prioritized

The Legislative Management Committee struggled to reduce the 111 studies approved by the 64th Legislative Assembly down to a manageable number for the interim.  They started with 16 that were passed as "required" studies, and ended up adding 28 additional studies for a total of 44.

Of these 44 chosen studies, the NDACo staff has identified 30 that have some relationship to county government.  We have grouped those 30 below in general topic areas.  Keep in mind that now the Legislative Management will divide the studies and the legislators up into 15-18 topic committees, so these will likely get sliced and diced in a somewhat different configuration. 

We will post here the committees, studies assigned, and chairman; once the Legislative Management Committee has completed this work.

Mandatory & Optional Interim Studies / 2015-17 Interim
30 County-Related Out of 44 Total Prioritized Studies (111 Total Advanced)
Oil Tax & Allocation Studies
    SB 2015 § 42 Oil and gas tax incentives and oil and gas recovery techniques (Required)
    SB 2318 Oil extraction tax exemptions for tertiary recovery (Required)
    HB 1176  § 6 Oil and gas tax revenue allocations
Highway Issue Studies
    HB 1377 Truck permitting in oil & gas counties (Required)
    HB 1012 § 10 Impacts  of harmonizing truck size and weight regulations (Required)
    SB 2015 § 41 Special transportation funding distributions to political subdivisions
    HB 1020  Feasibility of placing the upper great plains transportation institute under the NDDOT
    SB 2167 The one-call excavation notice system
Justice & Public Safety Studies
    HB 1015  § 4 Petrial services, sentencing alternatives, treatment options, and related issues (Required)
    HB 1165 PEW Research study of public safety, corrections (Required)
    HCR 3006  Use of state resources for youth adjudicated by tribal courts 
    HCR 3012  Child sex offender registration 
    HB 1004 Acquiring UND forensic pathology center
    HCR 3004  Best practices for forensic death investigation 
    HB 1018  § 25 Feasibility of establishing a civilian ground center for processing first responder data
    SCR 4018 Use of seclusion and restraint in schools
Health & Human Services Studies
    SB 2206 § 12 Develop a plan to transfer of 100% of county social service costs to state (Required)
    HB 1378  Essential health delivery & Affordable Care Act (Required)
    SB 2048 § 7 Behavioral health needs
    HB 1279 Family caregiver supports and services
    HCR 3049  Employment and public assistance 
    HCR 3003 State employee health insurance premiums
Voting & Election Studies
    HB 1302  Voter registration  
    HB 1389  Verification of non-citizens for voting purposes 
Water Studies  
    SB 2020 § 22 Sustainable water supply to central & eastern North Dakota (Required)
    HCR 3020  Impact on owners from land inundated by rising Devils Lake waters 
    HB 1095  Use of quick-take by water boards
Tax Incentive & Exemption Studies
    SB 2057 Economic development incentives (Required)
    SB 2276 Incentives to getting natural gas service to underserved communities
    HB 1401  Sales tax exemption for materials bought by contractor for tax exempt entity