Thursday, January 10, 2019

Highlights from the week of 1/7-1/10

It was the first full week of hearings and it was FULL of county related bills. It has been a fast and furious effort in getting bills filed. As we write this 590 bills have been filed. The total for the 2017 session was 770. Many are speculating there will be 1,000 bills filed this session. Monday marks the deadline for House bills. Senators have until the 21st to file bills.

Below is a summary of the bills NDACo and our members were involved in this week:
The Senate Tax and Finance committee took up two bills early in the week…
SB2089 changes the Tax Department report filing deadline for railroads from April 1 to May 1, and for utility companies from April 15 to May 1, while also eliminating the two week extension period currently allowed for utility companies.  This reduces administrative paperwork for both the companies and the tax department by setting a May 1 hard deadline date which the majority of companies were opting for with the extension.
SB 2042 eliminates the special budget reporting for oil counties and schools that was established in 2009 and 2015. Current law requires each oil county and school to file a report with the Tax Commissioner within 30 days of the end of their fiscal year which includes their statement of revenue and expenditures; ending fund balances; and oil tax revenue and expenditures.  SB2042 eliminates this end of year reporting requirement for oil counties and schools. 
The House Appropriations Human Resources Division received an overview of HB 1004, the Department of Health (DOH) budget.  Following DOH testimony, local public health administrators provided testimony requesting restoration of $525,000 to State Aid which was reduced in the proposed 2019 budget.  This additional amount would keep State Aid funding at its current 2017 level.  The Committee will resume discussion on HB 1004 the week of January 21.
The House Appropriations Committee received an overview on the Department of Corrections Budget. During their overview, DOCR pitched to legislators why the Women’s Prison should be moved from New England to the MRCC, the minimum security facility in south Bismarck. This move would trigger a series of shifts within DOCR. New buildings would need to be constructed at MRCC for the women, JRCC in Jamestown, where all the minimum security males would be housed, would need an expansion and DOCR’s plan also calls for a new State Hospital and Clinic to be built in Jamestown. Lawmaker will definitely be teasing out these details when the budget goes before the subcommittee.
The House Appropriations also received an overview on the funding for the Department of Transportation.
SB 2052 is a proposal that allows a voter-approved levy of up to 5 mills to be used for school security. The Sheriffs testified in support of the bill to assist in school safety enhancements to include school resource officers.
NDACo offered an amendment on a bill that would eliminate DHS from processing inmate medical bills. The amendment would suggest health care providers should bill counties at the fee schedule established by the department of human services for the medical assistance program.
Tuesday the Senate approved a bill Auditors supported that was the product of the interim Judiciary to address some publication requirements. The bill changes who pays for the election notice for commodity group elections from the county extension fund to the ag council/commission. It also adjusts the date for when financial statements are to be published.
The House also unanimously approved a bill to allow for vehicle to be left running even while unattended as long as the brake is engaged and a bill to allow for counties to hire part-time election workers.
 Wednesday, the full Senate Appropriations Committee received an overview of the Secretary of State’s budget. NDACo was allotted a few minutes to share our deep concerns about the aging election equipment and emphasis the need to secure state funding for a new statewide voting system. Appropriations members thanked NDACo for their compelling testimony on the urgency of this issue. We will be engaged with the sub-committee assigned this budget. NDACo has conducted a survey of the condition of the election equipment which is convincing data illustrating the degree of failure experienced during the last election.

Senate Finance & Tax heard testimony from OMB supporting SB2104 and an increase in general fund oil tax allocations from the current $400 Million to $1 Billion without changing the allocation structure of the two buckets.  SB2104 also removes the end of the current biennium sunset dates for the General Fund allocations.  The Committee tabled a decision on the bill requesting more information on current bucket allocations for a future hearing discussion.
We provided supportive testimony for the increase in funding for public guardianship.



Thursday was recognized as Transportation Day at the Capitol. Memorial Hall was filled with booths staffed by groups supporting investments in infrastructure. A group of transportation supporters helped sponsor a Transportation Education breakfast where several people including Morton County Commissioner Bruce Strinden spoke about the importance of a long-term funding approach for an infrastructure plan.
 The Senate Transportation committee took additional testimony on the primary seatbelt bill. Burleigh County Sheriff Kelly Leben testified along with a representative from the ND Sheriffs and Deputies Association. NDACo supplied testimony in support of this bill during the initial hearing last Friday. The Sheriffs along with NDACo and NDCCA have resolutions supporting a primary seatbelt law.

The House Appropriations Human Resources Division received an overview of HB 1004, the Department of Health (DOH) budget.  Following DOH testimony, local public health administrators provided testimony requesting restoration of $525,000 to State Aid which was reduced in the proposed 2019 budget.  This additional amount would keep State Aid funding at its current 2017 level.  The Committee will resume discussion on HB 1004 the week of January 21.

NDACo along with Commissioners Bruce Strinden, Daryl Dukart and Charlie Adams supplied testimony in support of restoration of funding for NDSU Extension. The state budget reduction forced counties to pick up a greater share of the cost of Extension. This was a temporary agreement for calendar year 2019 only. This was an additional $420,000 shift on property tax payers in North Dakota. We emphasized that counties were put in tough positions due to local pressure’s they were already experiencing due to tight county budget constraints.

While this week was busy, next week will be a “big” week for counties… Tuesday is "Law Day" where many of our law enforcement officers will fill the Capitol. And, two of our main priority bills are on the schedule. Monday – SB 2124, Social Service Redesign will be heard in the Senate Human Services Committee and Tuesday – HB 1066, Infrastructure Funding (Prairie Dog) will be heard in House Finance and Taxation Committee. We urge county officials who are available to attend these two critical hearings if possible, particularly if you have a legislator from your county on the committee. The House Tax Committee and Senate Human Services Committee members can be found at this link: https://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/66-2019/regular

Please check out the full schedule of county related bills here: Week 3 schedule

1 comment:

  1. Please note, the link to the schedule pushed out in the email update was for the Auditor-Treasurer Schedule. The link has been corrected in the body of the blog.
    Also to clarify, Law Day is Tuesday, January 15th.

    ReplyDelete

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