Thursday, February 28, 2019

Schedule for Week 10 - Week of March 4th

While things started out slow this week... Next week hearings really ramps back up. Follow the link to see the schedule for next week's hearings.

Monday, February 25, 2019

NDACo Crossover Report

Ø  Infrastructure Funding & Transportation Administration – multiple bills of interest – detailed here

Ø  Social Service Redesign (SB2124) – Passed Senate (43-1) – detailed here

Ø  Election Equipment (SB2002) – Passed Senate (47-0)

o   The Sec. of State’s budget contains $11 million ($8 million state & $3 million federal) to fund new election equipment

Ø  Statewide Interoperable Radio Network (SIRN) – Two Bills
o   ITD Budget (HB1021) – contains the $12.3 million that comes from the 50-cent fee to support the network – Passed (78-11)
o   HB1435 – contains the allocation of costs proposed for the project and allows for $120 million line of credit from the Bank of ND for the state costs.  Originally there was $40 million in cash in the bill, that was removed for the line of credit – Passed (85-5)
The proposed allocation of costs is:
§  State responsible for the network and the core
§  Local government responsible for premise equipment (consoles) in the PSAPs
§  A state cost share for all portable and mobile radios ($1,500/each)

Ø  Local Public Health State Aid – Dep. Of Health Budget (HB1004) – Passed (78-15)

o   The Executive Budget reduced public health state aid by $5.25 million, but the House restored the funding to current biennium levels.

Ø  Property Tax Administration – very good results
o   HB1182 – To cap property value increases – Failed (28-61)
o   HB1390 – To cap property values and taxes – Failed (29-60)
o   HB1380 – To cap property taxes at 3% – Failed (25-67)
o   HB1221 – To extend tax foreclosure from 3 to 6 years – Failed (19-70)
o   HB1261 – To shift excess revenue from sale of foreclosed property – Failed (27-62)
o   HB1545 – County level income tax to replace property tax – amended to study (66-27)
o   HB1481 – Private appraiser to supersede local assessment – Failed (24-68)
o   HB1289 – Private appraiser to superseded local assessment – Passed (52-41)

Ø  Publication Costs – mixed results
o   SB2062 – Need not publish election results if posted on website – Failed (20-25)
o   SB2035 – Shifts cost of commodity group election notices from county extension to the commodity groups – Passed (46-0)
o   HB1229 – to eliminate the county requirement to publish the list of checks with the minutes – Failed (47-42) – needed 48 votes

Ø  Liability/Insurance – All decided in counties’ favor
o   SB2166 Quadruples the liability limits for local government – Failed (2-44)
o   HB1436 Liability “hold-harmless” for private person moving snow on section line – Failed (22-69)
o   HB1317 Liability increase for NOT allowing guns in building – Failed (19-74)
o   SB2010 Fire & Tornado Fund administration to NDIRF – Passed (46-0)

Ø  Public Safety – mixed results
o   HB1534 DUI statute update – Passed (93-0)
o   HB1290 Restricts law enforcement entry onto land – Passed (64-29)
o   HB1015 DOCR Budget - Pretrial Service funds amended in – Passed (86-7)
§  HB1258 Pretrial services – put in DOCR budget 1015 – Failed (8-85)
o   HB1325 Allows anyone to carry guns at public events – Failed (22-70)
o   HB1497 Expands individual’s right to use deadly force – Failed (41-48)
o   HB1286 Major changes to Asset Forfeiture for law enforcement – Passed (57-33)
o   HB1155 Decriminalization of marijuana – Failed (43-47)
o   HB1364 Allows edible marijuana – Passed (72-21)
o   SB2134 Medical marijuana home grow – Failed (5-24)

Ø  Farm Residence Exemption – surprising result
o   SB2278 Financial records to be provided –kept confidential – Passed (47-0)
o   SB2351 Financial records confidential – amended into SB2278 – Failed (0-46)
o   SB2360. Eligibility based simply on 66% of gross income – Passed (34-11)

Ø  Eminent Domain – mostly positive
o   SB2259 Eminent domain damage calculation changes – Failed (20-25)
o   HB1184 Repeal of “quick take” eminent domain – Failed (26-64)
o   SB2238 County commission can veto all eminent domain – Failed (12-35)
o   HB1207 Court costs for eminent domain – Passed (80-13)

Ø  Election Administration – mostly positive
o   HB1375 County boards, sheriffs, state’s attorneys to declare party affiliation – Failed (37-53)
o   HB1270 Precinct lines finalized earlier – parties to be consulted – Passed (86-7)
o   SB2356 Amended to study of vote by mail – Passed (45-2)

Friday, February 22, 2019

Schedule for Week of February 25th

The Legislature is on their mid-session break, otherwise known as "crossover". It will be a short week, but very busy.  View the schedule here: Week February 25th Schedule

Thursday, February 21, 2019

ND Legislature Completes First Half of Session

The House and Senate worked diligently for the past three days to clear their calendars and complete their work on bills they have heard this session. They are now on their "mid-session" break otherwise known as "crossover". They will resume hearings Wednesday, February 27th.

The House and Senate worked diligently for the past three days to clear their calendars and complete their work on bills they have heard this session. They are now on their "mid-session" break otherwise known as "crossover". They will resume hearings Wednesday, February 27th.
NDACo is tracking a record number of bills this session and overall county issues were well received during the first half of the Legislative Session. Most bills strongly supported by county officials were passed, and only a few bills opposed will need to be addressed after crossover.
Many bills we have weighed in on were voted on over the last few days. Here is a brief summary of some of them...
HB 1066 - Infrastructure funding otherwise known as "Operation Prairie Dog" passed 80-12. There was lengthy debate on this bill most of it related to concerns by Representatives regarding the long-term commitment. The bill was amended to allow the State's Infrastructure Improvement Fund to receive $400 million in revenue before the county local infrastructure "bucket" is filled. While this may delay the receipt of funds for non-oil counties until the end of the next biennium, it protects the state's obligation if oil prices or production is reduced.
HB 1435 - Funding for the Statewide Interoperable Radio Network (SIRN) - Passed 85-5. This bill fully funds the project to upgrade the communications system for public safety responders.
HB 1375 - Requirement for local offices to be partisan - Failed with a vote of 37-53. This bill had been amended to impact locally elected boards and commissions and Sheriffs.
HB 1497 - Expansion of use of deadly force - Failed 41-49
HB 1286 - Asset Forfeiture reform - Passed
HB 1184 - Elimination of quick take eminent domain - Failed
HB 1325 - Everyone can carry at public events - Failed
HB 1155 - Decriminalization of Marijuana - Failed 43-47
HB 1290 - Restricts law enforcement from searching private property without permission - Passed
HB 1289 - Requires random spot checks of property values - Passed - 52-41
HB 1270 - Requires counties to consult with district party chairs when relocating precinct boundaries and moving polling locations - Passed - 86-7
HB 1020 - NDSU Extension Budget - Passed The House Appropriations restored cuts made by the executive budget and added $450,000 for local roads study.
HB 1004 - ND Department of Health Budget - Passed: The House Appropriations restored $5.25 million for local public health units.

SB 2062 - Eliminate requirement for counties to publish official election results if published on county websites. This passed on Tuesday but was reconsidered Wednesday and failed with a vote of 20-25.
SB 2356 - Absentee ballots signatures amended into study - Passed
SB 2315 - Changes criminal trespass relates to private property and posting - Passed

    Friday, February 15, 2019

    Senate Approves Social Service Redesign & Plan for Week of February 18th

    Week of February 18th

    No hearing schedule for next week to share as committee will be finishing their action on bills if they haven't completed their work by end of this week. The Appropriations committees will be hearing and acting on bills that have been referred to them as well. But most of the time next week will be spent on the chamber floor voting on bills. The House and Senate need to have all bills voted on in their house of origin by the end of next week or what is known as "crossover". Legislators are scheduled for a mid-term break the 25-26th and possibly the 22nd if their work is complete.
    Watch for a few major bills to be on the floor early next week including:
    1066 - Operation Prairie Dog
    1435 - Statewide Interoperable Radio Network funding
    1286 - Asset Forfeiture

    Senate Approves Social Service Redesign

    The North Dakota Senate approved SB 2124, the Social Service Redesign bill Thursday with a vote of 43-1. Senator Judy Lee carried the bill on the Senate floor. "This continues the Legislature's efforts to fund social services instead of using local property taxes and will enhance the delivery of services. This plan creates 19 zones where multiple counties will collaborate on services, however all current access locations will be maintained. We have to have the services provided where the people are, but we believe these locations will work more effectively," said Lee.

     There are many elements to this complex bill but a few of the highlights include:
    The plan will create 19 zones of multiple counties that will collaborate on services.
    Counties with larger populations are allowed to have their own zone.
    Zone Directors are employees of the zone board which will be it's own political subdivision.
    An expanded human service zone board of county commissioners, legislators and other local leaders to hire the zone director and ensure local service needs are addressed.
    All current access locations will be maintained.
    Statewide implementation by 1/21.
    Immediate tax relief and reform through elimination of up to 20 mills counties levied in the past for social services in the past.
    Statewide consistency with indigent burials.

    Committees Act of Numerous Bills

    Committees this week have been spending most of their time wrapping of the work they have on bills remaining in committee.
    Action worth noting of committee votes Wednesday:
    2256 - lists up to 500 words of constitutional measure on ballot -Senate GVA DNP recommendation
    2062 - eliminate publication of election results in paper if on co website - Senate GVA DNP recommendation
    1325 - allows anyone to carry guns at public events - House Energy & Natural Resources DNP recommendation
    1379 - voter referral of preliminary local budgets - House Political Subs - DNP recommenation
    1270 - polling places to be approved by district chairs - amended to co must consult with district chairs - House Political Subs - DP recommendation
    1289 - private appraisal supersedes board of equalization - House Political Subs DP recommendation 

    Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Property Tax Cap bill Defeated... and other updates

    House Defeats Property Tax Cap Bill

    Again... Thank you County Officials who emailed your House members on 1380 the property tax cap bill. Representatives voted down HB 1380 by a vote of 25-67. It was a great floor debate.
    Those who were in favor of the bill argued that this bill would curb the increase in property taxes citizens are paying in some areas. And that the voters would have the ability to decide if taxes should be raised.
    The opponents conveyed that property taxes are used to pay for local services as well as to address local needs whether they funds used in response to planned or unplanned events. Opponents also reminded fellow House members of recent property tax relief and reform efforts. House Majority Leader Chet Pollert shared powerful insight with House members regarding local control and authority when he said, "I believe local control is when you elect your county commissioner, city commissioners, school and park board members. Local control belongs at the local level."

    Senate Approves Election Equipment Funding

    The Senate unanimously approved funding for new election equipment. The funding would be used for a new statewide system to include tabulators and e-poll books. This is a priority item for NDACo, as the current election system is experiencing failures and is at the end of it's life. The Senate approved $11.2 million for the election equipment.

    Update on Farm Residence Property Tax Exemption

    The issue of the Farm-Residence property tax exemption remains in flux. SB2278 to shift the responsibility for providing the tax payer information is now in the Sen. Appropriations Committee as it added costs to the Tax Dept. SB2360 to move eligibility to simply that 66% of income must be from the farm was amended slightly to correct the language and then was passed out of the Sen, Tax Committee “Without Recommendation.“ This action became necessary as the bill had 3 senators in favor and 3 opposed.

    Social Service Redesign Update

    The social service redesign bill, SB2124, had its Senate Appropriations hearing today and then saw immediate action. The hearing focused on the funding driven by the bill and began with a breakdown of the $182.3 million of state funding it allocates. It was clearly stated that all direct costs of local human service delivery will be funded by the state, and counties fiscal responsibility will be limited to indirect costs, although some federal reimbursement for those will continue. The committee then gave it a Do Pass recommendation on a vote of 14-0.

    SIRN Funding

    The House Appropriations committee amended HB 1435 and gave the bill a Do Pass recommendation. The amendment increases the funding to $120 million but indicates the funding will be a line of credit with plans to use the current .50 from the 9-1-1 fee to pay for the cost over 30 years. The bill next will go to the full House for a vote.

    Asset Forfeiture

    The House Judiciary gave HB 1286 which reforms Civil Asset Forfeiture a Do Pass recommendation.  Law enforcement opposed the bill but did work with a subcommittee on a compromise but that amendment was not approved by the committee. The bill was then amended in committee and includes a number of items law enforcement opposed when it was introduced. The bill includes: a requirement for conviction with some exceptions, forfeiture funds will go to the Attorney General Asset Forfeiture Fund, increases the burden of proof for a seizure and forfeiture and indicates the forfeited property must be proportionate to the crime.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    Counties Call to Action: Oppose HB 1380 3% caps on levies

    We need your help in defeating HB 1380 which would put a 3% cap on property taxes for political subdivisions unless voters approve a greater, defined percentage increase. Please contact your House members and urge them to defeat this bill by voting RED.
    The bill comes from the House Finance and Tax Committee with an 8-6 Do Pass recommendation. NDACo testified how the 3% could force taxing jurisdictions to take the flat percentage every year since they have no idea what needs may come up one year, three years or ten years down the road. Please emphasize the need for local control and dangers of capping local property taxes.
    To find your house members follow this link: List of House Members

    Operation Prairie Dog has Appropriations Hearing

    HB1066 - Operation Prairie Dog - had its formal hearing in the full House Appropriations Committee Tuesday. Tax Committee Chair Representative Craig Headland was the only person allowed to testify, however the room was quite full of interested folks from counties, cities, townships, contractors, airports, business leaders, and others.  
    Most of the time was devoted to a detailed explanation of the bill by a Legislative Council staffer. Appropriations Chair Representative Jeff Delzer announced that no discussion would be held Tuesday and no immediate action would be taken, suggesting the committee members should review the bill carefully. 
    Follow the link for background on HB 1066:

    Monday, February 11, 2019

    Update for Monday, February 11th

    Appropriations Committee to Hear Operation Prairie Dog

    The major infrastructure bill, HB 1066, nicknamed "Operation Prairie Dog" has a Do Pass out of the House Finance and Tax Committee and will be heard in the House Appropriations committee Tuesday morning. Please review the list of members on the House Appropriations committee and email your member encouraging their support.  Follow the link to view Appropriations members:

    Social Services Redesign Heading to Appropriations Committee

    The Senate approved amendments to SB 2124, the social service redesign bill. The bill will now go to the Senate Appropriations for their review. The amendments are a critical component of SB 2124. NDACo along with the Social Service Directors and DHS have worked together on the amendments which address some earlier concerns regarding the bill as initially drafted. While zones will still be formed, more time is allowed for counties to create them, they will be more locally driven, the zone directors will be locally employed, and the zone board will be more supervisory than advisory.

    Appropriations Sub Committee Acts on Women's Prison Recommendation

    The Appropriations HR committee that is assigned the DOCR budget met today to finalize their work on the budget. They had three amendments to consider related to the Dakota Women’s Correctional Rehab Center. In the end, the sub committee approved the amendment to make no change this session and to study the possibility of relocation of female and male inmates.
    This has been a contentious issue since the Governor announced his recommendation to move women from the DWCRC facility in New England during his State of the State Address. The proposal was to move the women to the Missouri River Correctional Center (MRCC) in Bismarck. This move would prompt other shifts impacting the DOCR population. Minimum security male inmates at MRCC would be moved to the James River Correctional Center (JRCC) in Jamestown.

    The amendments the committee and the action taken on them is summarized below:

    #1 - Move women from DWCRC (close DWCRC) - Amendment FAILED with a vote of 1-5

    #2 - Move women from DWCRC to MRCC and move men from MRCC to DWCRC – Amendment FAILED w vote of 3-3
    #3 - No move. Study during the 2019-20 interim the feasibility and desirability of relocating female inmates to another location along with relocating minimum security male inmates from MRCC to another location. – Amendment PASSED 5-1

    Thursday, February 7, 2019

    Schedule for Week of February 11th

    Don't let the schedule fool you... Next week will be a very busy week. Committees will be spending most of their time conducting committee work and acting on bills that they have heard. We are hearing that floor sessions will be extended as well to get through the massive amount of bills yet to be acted on.
    Please stay tuned to your email alerts from the NDACo Legislative Blog as we will use this as our avenue to send out Call to Action alerts on priority bills that will be up for floor votes.
    Two bills of note are HB 1066, Operation Prairie Dog and HB 1380, which caps local budgets at 3% without a vote. Operation Prairie Dog has been referred to Appropriations. That hearing should take place Monday. We could see it on the floor late next week. HB 1380 will more than likely be on the floor Monday. Please encourage your House members to vote no on HB 1380. Look for more information on this bill in the next couple days.
    A hearing was held to fund the entirety of the Statewide Infrastructure Radio Network. Public safety personnel testified with first hand examples to illustrate the importance of a reliable system along with the urgency of funding SIRN from start to finish this session. The $206 million project would fund the infrastructure for the system including towers, radio devices and core systems. Public safety entities would be provided a $1500 stipend / per radio under this bill. A .50 9-1-1 fee is currently be collected by every user to help fund a small portion of the project.
    HB 1229, to remove two county publishing requirements failed by one vote Thursday. The bill sought to remove the listing of each individual expense from a requirement counties had to publish in the newspaper if they listed the expenditures on their website. The bill also included the removal of a requirement to list the official election results because by the time they are "official" they are "old" news.
    Team County continues to monitor several other bills making their way out of committee and will continue to do so through next week.
    Follow the link to view next week's schedule of hearings. The orange highlight indicates auditor related bills, the blue public safety related bills.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2019

    Update for Wednesday, Feb 6th

    SB2124 -Social Service Redesign - was amended today in the Senate Human Services Committee and given a unanimous Do Pass recommendation with re-referral to Senate  Appropriations. The amendments incorporate many of the changes requested by counties. While zones will still be formed, more time was allowed for counties to create them, they will be more locally driven, the zone directors will be locally employed, and the zone board will be more supervisory than advisory. A bill incorporating the changes will be posted here as soon as it is prepared.

    Operation Prairie Dog (HB1066) is one step closer to reality.  The bill was amended on the House floor and re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee.  The House Finance & Taxation Committee actually considered two amendments but rejected one that would sunset funding after this biennium.  

    The amendment adopted creates a new “bucket” requiring the State’s Infrastructure Fund to get $400 million before the city and county infrastructure funds fill up.  While this should still allow the local “buckets” to fill (at projected oil price and production) the timing would put us awfully close to the end of the biennium, possibly impacting its availability for the 2021 construction season.

    Obviously not ideal at this point, but it is a long way to passage, and we expect plenty of maneuvering in the process.  We expect the House Appropriations Committee to hold a hearing (possibly Monday), but past practice suggests that they will only allow the Finance & Tax Committee carrier to present.  Regardless, we will be there to weigh in on county interest if the opportunity arises. 

    A property tax cap bill that is still alive had amendments adopted today and could be heard early next week. HB 1380 caps budget growth at 3% unless a majority of voters approve a larger increase. Watch for a call to action to contact your Representatives on this bill as we get closer to seeing it on the House Floor.

    NDACo and law enforcement raised concerns on a decriminalization of marijuana bill as well as a bill that restricts law enforcement from entering private property without permission. 

    Tuesday, February 5, 2019

    Update for Tuesday, Feb 5th

    First off, THANK YOU!
    We asked you to reach out to Senators and urge them Tuesday to vote against SB 2166 which would have quadrupled liability limits for political subdivisions. We were very successful. You were able to help us in switching many votes. The bill failed with a vote of 2-44.

    Monday, the Senate defeated raising the gas tax. The original proposal was to increase the gas tax $.07 a gallon from twenty-three cents to thirty cents. It was amended in committee to a four cent increase to $.27. There was a lot of discussion on the floor regarding how this increase could help in road funding. The bill failed with a vote of 18-26. A similar bill to increase the gas tax to $.30 is alive in the House.

    Senators also have also made movement on bills that address the farm residence exemption. Senators Tuesday amended SB 2278 to include language that was in SB 2351 and then killed SB 2351.  SB 2278 now includes language that requires the individual interested in the exemption to provide information necessary to prove their eligibility. That information would be confidential. 2278 will be voted on in the Senate Wednesday. Another bill which broadens eligibility remains in the Senate Finance and Tax committee.

    The Senate unanimously passed a bill initiated by auditors to address an issue with centrally assessed properties. SB 2350 creates a deadline for centrally assessment adjustments, if not made by October 1 they will be applied to the following year. McKenzie County Auditor Erica Johnsrud explained the problem to committee members, how this bill will help reduce impacts to budgets after they have been set and increase accuracy through the centrally assessment process.

    Almost three hours of testimony has been provided to the House Judiciary committee regarding asset forfeiture. A subcommittee has been appointed to work on reaching a compromise on the bill. Law enforcement have grave concerns with the requirement for a conviction and the shift of forfeiture funds from local agencies to the common schools trust fund.

    The House Judiciary committee also heard HB 1459 which seeks to limit the use of reserve officers by police and sheriff's departments a do not pass recommendation. 

    The House Finance and Tax committee kicked out HB 1481, which allowed property owners to substitute a private appraisal for their true and full valuation. The bill was amended and then given a Do Not Pass recommendation. We will need your help to encourage House members to follow this recommendation and vote "RED".

    The House Human Resources Division of Appropriations proposed the following amendments to HB 1004, the Department of Health Budget.
    • restore $525,000 State Aid to LPHU from Tobacco Prevention Control Fund;
    •restore $50,000 to the new offender program in Wahpeton, Valley City, Devils Lake and Dickinson from the Tobacco Prevention Control Fund.
    Restoration of State Aid funds to this 2017 biennium level is the number one priority for LPHUs.

    Monday, February 4, 2019

    COUNTIES CALL TO ACTION: Contact Senators immediately on SB 2166

    Counties, cities, schools, and others are working to convince Senators to reconsider the vote on SB2166 which increases liability limits for political subdivisions. This bill quadruples the liability limits, which would likely double liability premiums.
    The Senate passed the bill 24-20. We need your help in contacting your Senator to ask them to vote yes for reconsideration and then NO (red) on final passage SB2166.
    “This has been a long and challenging road to provide adequate protection for our tax payers and just compensation for those harmed by governmental actions. We believe that the Legislature, local officials, and our insurance fund have worked well in periodically considering this chapter of Century Code and adjusting limits, as was done in 2015, when appropriate," said Terry Traynor, NDACo Executive Director.
    As local limits relate directly to the state government limits, and indirectly to insurance limits for private sector, this issue needs to be examined holistically and individual limits should not be raised without consideration of the others.

    Follow this link to find the listing of State Senators to contact.