Capitol Letters – Week 17

As your Capitol Letters co-authors clack out this final installment of your weekly, three-minute update of the goings-on in the North Dakota Legislature, we’re approaching our 18th waking hour of day 80 of the 80 day legislative session. Bills now number in the single digits. Normally gruff legislators are getting sentimental. Committee rooms have a scent of, well, we’ll say “closeness.” And what a day it’s been. Please read on.

Head-shaker of the millenium: K-12 funding in the balance

The North Dakota Legislature has never used its 80th day before, and apparently the GOP majority was not content to set just one record this glorious morning. Because they took things to a whole new level of legislative dottiness on day 80. An action so cavalier, thoughtless, and outright harmful that even you, a sophisticated connoisseur of legislative news, would not expect it to be within the bounds of the GOP majority’s capacity for recklessness.

They killed the K-12 school funding bill (HB 1319). Legislation that dozens of people — Republican, Democrat, and apolitical alike — had worked on for thousands and thousands of hours. It funds education for North Dakota children.

Perhaps you already guessed: Representative Carlson was the one who orchestrated reconsideration of the bill, which had passed the House on Thursday, and led the effort to defeat the legislation on the floor by a tie vote of 46-46.

As noted by the Fargo Forum, “Democratic leaders (i.e., your Capitol Letters co-authors) issued a news release calling the bill’s defeat ‘legislative malpractice from a caucus leader and a group of followers who have become absolutely unglued,’ referring to House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo.” The Forum also correctly observed that we issued this statement “[m]oments after the vote[.]” Just sayin’.

But we weren’t the only ones who had something to say. Take, for instance, the North Dakota Education Association, which was “profoundly disappointed” by the House vote, adding that the action “defies logic and drives a stake through the heart of the bipartisan consensus that had earlier been reached on K-12 education funding.” Or the school administrators who reacted with disbelief and frustration. Or even Representative Mike Nathe, the GOP chair of the House Education Committee, who said, “We had a whole year to come up with a property tax relief plan . . . [n]ow we come up with it on day 80, I don’t see the logic in that.” Yeah. Not so much.

As we approach our deadline for publication of Capitol Letters, it appears as though a deal is close to being reached — a process which, from a mechanical standpoint, involves the GOP majority slinging around hundreds of millions of dollars and dangling school funding from a gossamer thread as idle legislators box up their creature comforts at 2:28 a.m. on the last day of the legislative session.

Faithful readers, this is no way to run a railroad. Yes, we’re glad the explosion of public pressure appears to have taken its desired effect. But why should a whole state have to freak out on a majority leader just to pass a thoroughly-vetted, bipartisan bill that funds the basic governmental function of providing access to public education? It shouldn’t. It absolutely shouldn’t.

North Dakota has been given unlimited opportunity by virtue of the lucrative development of its natural resources. We should hope for elected leaders who aim to live up to this potential. We deserve, at the very least, leaders who won’t affirmatively harm the good thing that we have going. We’ll leave it to you to decide which category the GOP majority falls into. But we wouldn’t be too quick to have Representative Carlson make us a cheese sandwich. He might just mess it up.

The good news: Stripper well fix, tribal agreement, funding for western North Dakota.

You may now be in the mood for some good news. We have some. On day 80, Dem-NPL legislators were able to work with pragmatic members of the majority to revive an oil revenue sharing agreement between the state and the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and also enshrine a partial fix to the stripper well loophole, a long-standing priority of the Dem-NPL. People like former Senator Ryan Taylor, Senator Connie Triplett, and many others have been trying for years to close that loophole. We may not have cinched it entirely shut, but it’s now considerably smaller thanks to the never-give-up attitude of Dem-NPL legislators.

And we’ll also take a moment to remind you what didn’t pass: A cut to the oil extraction tax. Twice it was proposed. Twice it was beaten back. Billions for future generations of North Dakotans was saved. We’re proud of our Dem-NPL caucus members and hope that you are too.

The rest of the story

We have enjoyed bringing you these updates, and we’ve also been flattered by your feedback. Comments like, “You should really save all those Capitol Letters.” or “Please charge me for Capitol Letters!” have inspired us to bring you a compendious summary of the 2013 legislative session. So here it is. It’ll be up on our blog to serve as somewhat of a people’s history. We hope you and members of the general public will find it useful.

So before we conclude, we will leave you with a quote from everybody’s favorite Republican, Teddy Roosevelt. “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Your Dem-NPL legislators believe this work is worth doing. And the chance to work hard on behalf of this state we call home is an absolute honor. We thank you for the opportunity.

Until next time, keep the faith and keep up the fight.

Mac Schneider            Kenton Onstad

Dem-NPL News of the Week – Week 17

Dem-NPL News of the Week – Week 17

5.3.13

Print:

House clears bill for more K-12 funding, property tax relief – Forum Communications (K. Koppelman, R. Becker, D. Monson, J. Kasper)

House narrowly approves K-12 bill – Bismarck Tribune (M. Nathe, R. Becker, R. Weisz, D. Monson, A. Carlson)

Oil patch leaders: Impact funds appreciated, but more needed – Bismarck Tribune (J. Warner, B. Bowman)

North Dakota Senate approves massive oil patch bill – Bismarck Tribune (D. Oehlke, B. Bowman, R. Wardner)

N.D. House passes $250M tax cut bill – Bismarck Tribune (C. Headland)

N.D. Legislature: Merit-based scholarships made more flexible – Forum Communications

North Dakota suicide rate up sharply among the middle-aged – Associated Press (T. Mathern)

North Dakota economy: Not just oil – Forum Communications

Legislature to set record – Bismarck Tribune

Attorney general gets $7 million budget increase – Bismarck Tribune (K. Kempenich, J. Kasper)

Remembering Gov. Bill Guy – Bismarck Tribune

Opinion:

Becki Harstad, Mayville, Letter: Thanks to union for lockout efforts

Heidi Heitkamp: Remember ND’s Native Americans during Global Poverty Week

TV:

Remembering Governor Guy – KFYR-TV

DOT Budget – KFYR-TV (M. Brandenburg)

Property Tax Bill Passes House – KFYR-TV (R. Becker, M. Nathe)

Governor Signs Legislation for Human Services and Water Projects – KFYR-TV

Funding Needs in Oil Country – KFYR-TV (D. Drovdal, B. Skarphol)

ND Legislature Approves Income and Corporate Tax Relief – KXMB-TV (C. Headland)

House Debates Property Tax in Education Funding Bill – KXMB-TV (J. Kasper, A. Carlson, K. Koppelman)

North Dakota Water Projects Get $515 Million in State Funding – KXMB-TV

You Paid For It: What ND Lawmakers Did With Your Tax Dollars – Valley News Live (A. Carlson, M. Schneider, T. Grindberg)

“Heartbeat Regulation” Part one: What lies ahead for ND’s abortion laws – WDAZ-TV (B. Grande)

5.2.13

Print:

ND House rejects oil tax restructuring measure – Forum Communications (S. Kelsh, D. Drovdal, M. Dosch)

House adopts $1.1 billion for Oil Patch; bill moves to Senate – Forum Communications (B. Skarphol, J. Delzer, V. Steiner, N. Johnson)

N.D. House approves funds for oil patch – Bismarck Tribune (B. Skarphol)

Budget breaks the billion-dollar barrier – Bismarck Tribune (C. Pollert)

North Dakota Legislature: Merit-based scholarships made more flexible – Forum Communications

The cost of being a landlord: Dickinson tenant leaves rented home with an estimated $10K worth of damage – The Dickinson Press

Shuffle puts former KFGO owner in charge of longtime competitors – Forum Communications

Opinion: 

Bismarck Tribune Editorial: William L. Guy: 1919-2013

Minot Daily News Editorial: Oil boom is here to stay

Fargo Forum editorial: Let’s put sandbags behind us

Ron Gumeringer, Bismarck, Letter: ND state workers deserve a raise

Chelsey Henderson, Grand Forks, N.D. letter: N.D. needs a fully funded Head Start

JoAnne Gorman, Grand Forks, N.D. letter: Why was tax relief put on back burner?

Kelly McGrady, New Town, Letter: Cleanup going well in oil patch

Great Plains News:

ND senator wants local governments out of housing business – (D. Cook)

Proposed ND oil tax cut draws Democratic protests – (M. Schneider, R. Wardner)

ND homestead tax credit program gets boost – (J. Miller)

TV:

Session Almost Over – KFYR-TV (D. Vigesaa, M. Schneider)

House Passes Impact Funding Bill for Oil Country – KFYR-TV (J. Delzer)

Oil Tax Bill Fails – KFYR-TV (J. Kasper, M Dosch)

House Kills Oil Tax Bill – KXMB-TV (S. Kelsh, D. Drovdal, M. Dosch, J. Nelson)

House Approves Oil Impact Legislation – KXMB-TV

Grand Forks leaders hope for progress on bills in final days of legislative session – WDAZ-TV

5.1.13

Print:

‘We stand on his shoulders’: Guy, four-term governor of North Dakota, lauded for lifetime of selfless service – Forum Communications

North Dakota tax cut packages remain on the table – Forum Communications (C. Headland, T. Flakoll, C. Triplett)

Childcare bill approved by Legislature – Williston Herald (K. Hogan, K. Hawken, J. Heckaman)

Child care bill clears Legislature – Bismarck Tribune (R. Weisz, H. Anderson, K. Hawken)

Bill expands child care capacity, funding – Forum Communications (K. Hawken)

Tribal college leaders praise workforce training grants – Bismarck Tribune

North Dakota Senate rejects tax cut measure – Associated Press

Senate rejects income tax cut bill – Bismarck Tribune (D. Cook, J. miller)

N.D. road work could set record at $878 million – Bismarck Tribune

Griggs County to get new courthouse after all – Associated Press

Although new USGS oil estimate for ND more than doubles 2008 survey, some say figure still conservative – Forum Communications

Hoeven says Senate will vote Monday on bill including diversion approval – Forum Communications

Rep. Cramer, West Acres CEO among critics of proposed border-crossing fee – Forum Communications

Opinion:

Fargo Forum editorial: Message sent to DUI offenders

Williston Herald Editorial: Williston can’t do it alone

Rennae Gruchalla, Fargo, Letter: Let’s protect Arctic refuge

K.J. Carlson, Bismarck, Letter: GLBT support group welcoming

Mitch Axness, Fargo, Letter to the editor: Media supported candidates they are now criticizing

Great Plains News:

ND Senate rejects $350M income tax cut

TV:

Income Tax Bill Fails – KFYR-TV (J. Dotzenrod, A. Carlson)

Workforce Development Bill – KFYR-TV

ND Legislature Passes Childcare Bill – KXMB-TV (K. Hawken)

4.30.13

Print:

Dalrymple signs tougher North Dakota DUI laws – Forum Communications (K. Koppelman)

Governor: DUI law will save lives – Bismarck Tribune

House approves $350 million tax cut – Bismarck Tribune (W. Belter, S. Kelsh, C. Mock, C. Headland)

Water Commission budget, diversion funding pass – Forum Communications (A. Carlson, J. Wall)

N.D. bill adding 3 judges passes – Forum Communications

Flags to fly at half-staff for former Gov. William Guy – Associated Press

Fed up with job and wintry weather, North Dakota University System auditor resigns – Associated Press

Maggie Anderson to head Human Services – Bismarck Tribune

Opinion:

Fargo Forum editorial: Bill Guy was ‘true ND giant’

Trygve Olson cartoon April 30

Bismarck Tribune Editorial: ND should run numbers on corps’ campgrounds

Great Plains News:

‘One of my better days’: Grieving father sees signing of tougher DUI law 

Anderson named director of ND human services agency

TV:

Income Tax Cuts – KFYR-TV (A. Carlson, W. Belter, S. Kelsh, C. Headland)

Governor Signs DUI Bill – KFYR-TV

Dalrymple Signs DUI Bill Into Law – KXMB-TV

Wyndmere residents could soon see a property tax hike – WDAY-TV

4.27.13 – 4.29.13

Print:

ND ‘has lost one of the true giants’: Former Gov. Guy dies at 93 – Forum Communications

Former Gov. Bill Guy dies – Bismarck Tribune

Proposal restores some oil country funding – Bismarck Tribune (J. Delzer)

North Dakota Legislature heads toward home stretch – Associated Press

ND House passes tobacco prevention budget – Associated Press

Diversion legislation set for discussion in Senate – Associated Press

Tougher DUI measure sent to Dalrymple – Williston Herald

Obama: ND anti-abortion laws ‘more suited to 1950s’ – Forum Communications (B. Grande, M. Sitte)

Emails show North Dakota college presidents have bristled at chancellor’s leadership – Forum Communications

Opinion: 

GF Herald Editorial, OUR OPINION: The living legacy of Bill Guy

Mike Jacobs, MATTERS AT HAND: Bill Guy stands out among N.D. political figures

Bismarck Tribune Editorial: State worker pay must keep up

Ahlin: Mary sees parallels between ND and China child policies

Fargo Forum editorial: Time for Shirvani to resign

Zaleski, Column: Bossart worked in an era of change

Tom Ricker, Letter: Workers must be protected

Charley Johnson, Fargo, Letter to the editor: Attention given to wrong anchorman

Tom Fiebiger, Fargo, Letter: ND senators’ vote was shortsighted

Greg Hodur, Fargo, Letter: Praise for work of Sen. Grindberg

Dale Heger, Fargo, Letter: Use surplus to pay for diversion

Matt Magness, Fargo, Letter: Disappointing leaders won’t get another vote

Bill Patrie, Bismarck, Letter: Don’t return to the Middle Ages

Tim Beaudoin, Dickinson, Letter: Accountability for Western cities

Great Plains News:

Lawmakers hope ND water measure resolves western feud – (C. Hofstad)

ND Legislature to end Thursday, Senate leader predicts – (R. Wardner)

ND House kills anti-tobacco agency; leader promises to revisit decision – (A. Carlson)

New ND DUI law has mandatory prison for death, injury accidents – (K. Armstrong)

TV:

Former Governor Passes Away – KFYR-TV (T. Mathern)

Former Governor William Guy Dead at the Age of 93 – KXMB-TV

Statement from Dem-NPL legislators on failure of HB 1319

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Following the defeat of HB 1319 46 to 46 by North Dakota Republicans on Day 80 of the 63rd Legislative Session, Dem-NPL leaders Senator Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, and Representative Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall, released the following statement:

The defeat of HB 1319, legislation which funds elementary and secondary schools throughout North Dakota, stands as the latest and clearest testament to date that the Republican supermajority is utterly failing the citizens of North Dakota.

The spectacle that unfolded today on the House floor at the direction of Representative Al Carlson is an embarrassment. Indeed, it is outright harmful to every elementary and secondary school in North Dakota. Thousands of hours have been spent on HB 1319 to arrive at a school funding formula which leverages our state’s prosperity to improve education and cut property taxes. Now, on day 80 of an 80 day legislative session, a radical faction of ideologues has defeated a bill that forms the backbone of how we fund our kids’ schools. It amounts to legislative malpractice from a caucus leader and a group of followers who have become absolutely unglued.

This is not a game. This is serious. This threatens one of the most basic functions of government — the public education of North Dakota children. We urge Representative Carlson to reverse course before further damage is done.

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Dem-NPL legislators: GOP oil tax cut a “thoughtless, unnecessary shortchanging of North Dakota’s future”

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Dem-NPL lawmakers today spoke out against a move by the GOP majority in the North Dakota Legislature to cut the state’s oil extraction tax by 8%. The lawmakers’ actions come on the heels of a vote yesterday by GOP conferees on House Bill 1234 to permanently lower the oil extraction tax from 6.5% to 6%, which the North Dakota Tax Department predicts will cost the state approximately $280 million in the first four years alone.

“The way the majority is cavalierly moving forward with a cut to the extraction tax that will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars really represents a thoughtless and unnecessary shortchanging of North Dakota’s future,” said Senate Dem-NPL Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks. “That the majority would do this on day 77 of an 80 day session with no hearing or meaningful opportunity for public input smacks of arrogance. There is simply no valid public purpose served by the Republican cut to the extraction tax.”

Interestingly, the vote by the GOP conferees to cut the extraction tax came on the same day that the U.S. Geological Survey announced there is nearly twice as much recoverable oil in the Williston Basin than was thought just five years ago.

“Yesterday’s projections are further affirmation that the oil companies are not going anywhere,” Senator Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks said. “A rational tax policy would cut taxes to provide an incentive for corporate behavior. No incentive is needed to encourage continued drilling in the Bakken/Three Forks. So long as the world price of oil remains high enough to justify the cost of drilling in the Bakken, the drilling will continue.

Previously in the session, SB 2336 proposed to lower the oil extraction tax by 30%. That plan was soundly defeated in the ND House by a vote of 6-87. During debate on the issue several groups stated that they intended to challenge the reduction through the initiated measure process.

“There is little doubt in our minds that this bill will be challenged by the people,” Representative Scot Kelsh, D-Fargo, said. “The overwhelming message from North Dakotans is property tax relief. Imagine the relief possible if we do not sign away millions each year through this unnecessary reduction.”

Furthermore, this extraction tax rate sits inside of an integral bill to the state of North Dakota. HB 1234, addresses closing the stripper property loophole, sets the trigger price and has a reporting-only requirement for infrastructure expenditures between the state and the Three Affiliated Tribes.

“It is downright shameful for our fellow legislators to put a needed bill and policy in jeopardy in order to pass through a reduction that has been widely criticized,” Representative Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall, said. “The relationship this legislature holds with the tribes is more important than an extraction cut. In fact, we as a body should have more respect for our friends, the Three Affiliated Tribes than to put this relationship in jeopardy.”

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Dem-NPL legislators: Childcare bill a good first step for North Dakota kids

Dems pledge to make further improvements to quality in future sessions

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – After numerous changes throughout the course of the legislative session, House Bill 1422, also known as the childcare bill, passed both chambers today. Dem-NPL legislators, who have long urged action to address the child care crisis in North Dakota, hailed the bill’s passage as a win for kids.

“This bill won’t solve the childcare crisis throughout the state, but it will be a big help” Representative Kathy Hogan, D-Fargo, longtime children’s advocate said. “We have fought for years to ensure families are able to sustain themselves while their children are being cared for and feel that this bill is a step in the right direction.”

The final version of the bill raises income eligibility for childcare assistance from 50 percent to 85 percent in state median income. The legislation also includes $1 million for grants for childcare facilities and $300,000 for special needs childcare. This increase in state median income levels places North Dakota No. 1 in the country alongside Texas and Colorado in providing child care relief through subsidies.

“This bill is a benefit to child care centers, parents and children in North Dakota,” co-sponsor of the bill Senator Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford, said. “We give child care facilities more stability and ability to hire staff while at the same time giving families more purchasing and saving power without them having to worry about their center’s fees increasing. We are opening the door for sustainable child care in North Dakota.”

In its original form, the bipartisan HB 1422 had over $15 million for child care stabilization grants, with specific allocations to western North Dakota. That was initially slashed to $2.1 million for IT purposes. However, after lengthy conference committee meetings and negotiations, both the North Dakota Senate and House came to a compromise.

“There is of course more we could have done, but are very pleased with this compromise and know during the next legislative session more minds will be turned in support of expanding child care services in a growing North Dakota,” Senator Tyler Axness, D-Fargo, said. “We look forward to leading that charge.”

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Capitol Letters – Week 16

Governor Bill Guy: 1919 – 2013

As we were putting the final touches on this week’s Capitol Letters, we received the sad news of Governor Bill Guy’s passing. Much will rightly be said about this giant of public service in the coming days, and we’ll add our voices to those of thousands of North Dakotans who are both saddened by Governor Guy’s passing and grateful for the lasting legacy of public service he left behind.

Governor Guy wrote a book about his experiences as governor called, “Where Seldom is Heard a Discouraging Word.” The same could be said about the man himself. Whether it was advancement of important water-related  issues, efforts to improve access to mental health care in the state, or his work to spawn the public service careers of the next generation of Dem-NPL leaders, Governor Guy blended effective advocacy with a civility that is all too often lacking in today’s brand of politics. He will be missed. And his life’s work will live on.

The final gavel

Next week, the 2013 Legislative Session will be over, and legislators will be gone from Bismarck faster than a poorly-spoken TV anchor for the capital city’s NBC affiliate. But before we gavel out sine die, there are plenty of right fights to be fought (we guess you’ll find a few more things to shake your head at as well). We bring you one of each from this week’s legislative action below.

The right fights: Winning the fight to restore funding for western North Dakota

Every week, we lay out some of the right fights we’ve been battling in Bismarck. Since this week’s fight involves western North Dakota, we think it is appropriate to start things out with a quote about fighting from the most famous western North Dakotan in history. “Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords.”

In case you are of the reasonable belief that Warren Christopher is the most famous western North Dakotan, we should clarify that quote was from Theodore Roosevelt. And we think Teddy would be proud of the way the Dem-NPL caucuses have aggressively fought this session for the part of North Dakota he called home.

As we’ve discussed in a previous edition of Capitol Letters, we have a moral obligation to stand by the people of western North Dakota as they grapple with the tremendous impacts that have arisen secondary to the oil boom. They are the ones who are literally paying the price for our prosperity.

Apparently, not all of our colleagues in the majority see it that way. Earlier this month, the Senate GOP majority voted to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from House Bill 1358, bipartisan legislation to address oil impacts in western North Dakota. One GOP senator even had the brass to tell the Fargo Forum “that some funding was stripped out” of the bill, in part, to get western North Dakota “cities to justify why they need the extra funding.”

We didn’t think that was right. So we laid out a three part plan to restore the cuts to HB 1358. And we largely got our way this week when the Senate voted to restore the bulk of the funding that the GOP majority had eliminated just a few weeks ago.

Why the turn of events? The headlines help tell the tale:

ND Senate cuts proposed oil patch funding (KFYR-TV, April 5th)

County officials not pleased with state (Williston Herald, April 11th).

Democrats want oil funds reinstated (Bismarck Tribune, April 11th).

Dems create plan to restore funding for oil-impacted areas (Forum Communications, April 11th).

Williston Herald editorial: Thank you to the Democrats in the North Dakota Legislature (April 13th).

Letter to the editor: ND should elect more Democrats (Williston Herald, April 17th).

Funding restored to oil patch bill (Williston Herald, April 24th).

To be fair, the bill still leaves important health care and human service priorities unfunded, and we will continue to work in our conference committees to meet those vital needs. Nonetheless, we had a bully of a good time, as TR might say, aggressively fighting the GOP majority on this one. We’re not sure if it is “the noblest sport the world affords[,]” but we’re darn sure it was the right fight for North Dakota.

Head-shaker of the week: Fuming over the tobacco prevention budget

Our head-shaker this week features a legislative tantrum thrown by the House GOP majority over the budget for the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.

You’ll remember that the Center was created by Measure 3 during the 2008 election, which voters approved by a margin of 54% thanks, in part, to the leadership of private citizen Heidi Heitkamp, now a U.S. Senator. Ever since, members of the GOP majority have had smoke coming out of their ears on this topic. As accurately recounted by Representative Jon Nelson, R-Rugby, during an interview with the Bismarck Tribune, “There’s just some people that have had a hard time accepting the vote of the people on Measure 3[.]” Which people have a hard time with this, exactly? Now, now. We here at Capitol Letters are too polite to name names (Representative Al Carlson).

Once again fired up on this issue, the House GOP voted down the Center’s entire $15.8 million budget on Thursday by a vote of 46-47. Representative Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo, enunciated his rationale to the Tribune. “Part of my problem is there is a lot of money being spent on things such as advertising,” he said.

Let’s parse that one out. The Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy — tasked with doing things like, say, preventing and controlling tobacco use — is spending money “on things such as advertising[.]” For this outrage, the Center paid the price of having its budget voted down. And in another spasm of legislative dysfunction, the House GOP leadership failed to get enough votes when it tried to reconsider the issue Thursday afternoon. Thankfully, the third time is a charm for the House GOP, which brought the bill back today and passed it after much head shaking from observers of the legislative process in that chamber.

One last push

Your Dem-NPL legislators will be making a final push for the best legislative product possible for North Dakota during these remaining days. We’ll have one last update then. In the meantime, keep the faith, keep up the fight, and like us on Facebook.

Mac Schneider                   Kenton Onstad

Dem-NPL News of the Week – Week 16

Dem-NPL leadership statement on passing of Governor Guy

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Following the news of Governor Bill Guy’s passing, Dem-NPL leaders, Senator Mac Schneider and Representative Kenton Onstad released the following statement:

“Governor Bill guy was a giant of public service in North Dakota. He not only brought bipartisanship to state government, but also conducted himself with a civility that is all too often lacking in today’s brand of politics. The title of his biography, ‘Where Seldom is Heard a Discouraging Word,’ accurately describes his gentlemanly approach as he governed the state and effectively advocated for North Dakotans. Whether it was his detailed understanding of water issues, successful efforts to improve access to mental health care, or the time he took to help cultivate the next generation of leaders in North Dakota, Governor Guy’s legacy will continue to be felt for decades to come.”

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Dem-NPL News of the Week – Week 16

4.26.14

Print:

Critics doubtful North Dakota measures will curb wasted gas – Associated Press

Vote sends message to tobacco committee – Forum Communications (B. Thoreson, K. Koppelman)

ND House rejects tobacco prevention budget – Associated Press (J. Nelson, B. Thoreson)

House rejects tobacco prevention budget – Bismarck Tribune (A. Carlson, J. Nelson, B. Thoreson)

Stricter DUI measure goes to governor – Bismarck Tribune (K. Armstrong, K. Koppelman)

ND lawmakers OK bill to strengthen DUI penalties – Associated Press

No firm crest prediction yet as Fargo flood fight set to begin – Forum Communications

Audit: Shirvani didn’t commit fraud – Forum Communications 

North Dakota higher ed board VP asked about open meeting law at dinner – Forum Communications

State ranks high in drinking – Forum Communications

Opinion:

Ellen Schafer, Bismarck, Letter: Accepting funding aids cancer fight

Trana Rogne, Kindred, N.D., letter: Heitkamp passes the buck on diversion

TV:

Workers Memorial Day – KFYR-TV

DUI Bill Passes – KFYR-TV (K. Armstrong, K. Koppelman, C. Headland, E. Gruchalla)

Work Related Deaths On The Rise In North Dakota – KXMB-TV

Tougher DUI Laws Passed in North Dakota – KXMB-TV (K. Koppelman, E. Gruchalla, K. Armstrong)

4.25.13

Print:

ND attorney general says final DUI proposal will be tough – Forum Communications (K. Koppelman, C. Headland, E. Gruchalla)

DUI bill clears House after debate – Bismarck Tribune (C. Headland, E. Gruchalla, K. Koppelman, D. Ruby, B. Skarphol)

Oil extraction tax bill moving slowly – Bismarck Tribune (C. Headland, D. Cook)

Animal cruelty bill goes to governor – Bismarck Tribune (D. Rust, T. Flakoll, R. Becker, J. Kasper)

Animal cruelty bill passes Senate – Williston Herald (J. Miller, J. Heckaman, T. Flakoll, S. Lyson, T. Grindberg)

Bill makes animal cruelty a felony in ND – Associated Press

When will it end? No one’s sure – Bismarck Tribune (R. Wardner, A. Carlson)

After making 1.1 million sandbags, Fargo may need just 100,000 – Forum Communications

Opinion:

Fargo Forum editorial: Reliable ‘voice of reason’

Williston Herald Editorial: To impact property tax go to budget meetings

Rep. David Drovdal, Letter: There is much work to be done in conference committee

Andy Peterson, Letter: Now is time for state to support diversion

Susan Beehler, Mandan, Letter: Disagreeing with Hoeven, Heitkamp

Dave Arnholt, Moorhead, Letter: Reject plans to give away freedom

Donna Bott, Grand Forks, letter: Hold Hoeven accountable for gun vote, too

Robert Donald, Grand Forks, letter: Round ’em up, let doctors sort ’em out

Great Plains News:

Fifth ND constitutional amendment on ballot; restricts initiative rights – (D. Hogue, M. Schneider)

ND animal mistreatment bill gets final approval – (D. Johnson, R. Becker)

9 Years of Record Profits: Bank of ND makes $81.6M 

TV:

Legislative Session Almost Over – KFYR-TV (C. Mock, D. Vigesaa, M. Schneider)

Animal Cruelty Bill Passes in North Dakota – KXMB-TV (T. Flakoll)

4.24.13

Print:

Senate passes animal cruelty bill; House to take it up – Forum Communications (T. Flakoll, S. Lyson, H. Anderson, D. Johnson, J. Miller)

Senate OKs animal cruelty bill – Bismarck Tribune (J. Miller, S. Lyson, T. Flakoll, T. Grindberg)

Voters to decide next year on higher ed board – Forum Communications (M. Nathe, M. Nelson, E. Glassheim)

House OKs putting higher ed measure on ballot – Bismarck Tribune (C. Mock, M. Nathe, E. Glassheim)

ND voters to decide higher ed board’s structure – Associated Press (M. Nathe, A. Carlson, E. Glassheim)

Funding restored to oil patch bill – Williston Herald (B. Skarphol, C. Triplett, D. Cook, B. Bowman)

Legislators debate cow shares – Bismarck Tribune (D. Kiefert, D. Ruby, E. Gruchalla)

ND attorney general looking into possible second higher ed board open meeting violation – Forum Communications

Reeling elsewhere, labor poised for gains in Minnesota – Associated Press

Fargo may scale back flood prep following conference call with forecasters – Forum Communications

VIDEO: With death of anchor Marv Bossart, ‘an era has ended’ – Forum Communications

Heitkamp continues fight started as attorney general – Forum Communications 

Opinion:

Fargo Forum editorial: Erdrich excellent choice

GF Herald Editorial, OUR OPINION: UND Law School’s renovation needs approval

Rep. Ben Hanson, West Fargo, ND, letters: Online sales-tax bill levels playing field

Rep. Bob Skarphol, Letter: As legislative session draws to an end, pressure mounts

John Irby, Column: When session ends next month, work will continue

Brenda Jo Gillund, West Fargo, Letter: Bill’s passage will help save lives

C.T. Marhula, Grand Forks, letters: Use tiny violin to mourn senator’s ‘dire’ straits

Marguerite Salazar & Stan Nakano, Grand Forks, Letter: Health insurance help for N.D.’s small businesses

Robert Snyder, Bismarck, Letter: Be truthful about legislation’s cost

Great Plains News:

Amendment would force November vote on ND budget initiatives

TV:

White Flags at the Capitol – KFYR-TV

Funding Oil Patch Needs – KFYR-TV (S. Kelsh, M. Schneider, B. Skarphol, D. Cook)

More Amendments to Animal Cruelty Bill – KFYR-TV (J. Heckaman)

ND Legislature Passes Measure for Vote on Higher Education – KXMB-TV (C. Mock, A. Carlson)

House Votes Down Bill to Increase Speeding Fines – KXMB-TV (D. Ruby)

Senate Approves Negotiated Animal Cruelty Bill – KXMB-TV (J. Heckaman, J. Miller)

4.23.13

Print:

ND Senate pushes ahead to dismantle State Board of Higher Education – Forum Communications (A. Carlson, G. Lee, D. Hogue, S. Berry, J. Heckaman, C. Triplett)

Senate OKs more funds for oil patch – Bismarck Tribune (D. Cook, B. Bowman, J. Dotzenrod, R. Wardner, R. Holmberg, J. Miller)

ND legislative notebook: Some funding for oil counties restored – Forum Communications – (D. Cook, T. Beadle)

Lawmakers ponder oil tax amendments – Bismarck Tribune (D. Drovdal)

Proposal limits initiated constitutional amendments – Bismarck Tribune (L. Klemin, A. Carlson, J. Grabinger)

Senate OKs employee pay package – Bismarck Tribune (R. Holmberg)

Legislators debate cow shares – Bismarck Tribune (D. Kiefert, D. Ruby, E. Gruchalla)

Opinion:

Fargo Forum editorial: It’s now matter of credibility

GF Herald Editorial: OUR OPINION: A Commission on Higher Ed Governance

Gov. George Sinner, Fargo, Letter: Carlson defies common sense

Ellen Schafer, Bismarck, letter: Thank you for expanding Medicaid

Tammy Osvold, Cavalier, Letter: Happy with Medicaid boost

Great Plains News:

Amendment would force November vote on ND budget initiatives

Senate endorses replacing ND Board of Higher Education – (D. Hogue, C. Triplett)

Proposal hopes to reduce ND natural gas waste – (J. Unruh)

ND House, Senate ‘dug in’ over plans for income tax cuts – (R. Wardner)

Lawmakers set to endorse ND state worker pay, pension deal – (R. Wardner)

TV:

Some Funding for Oil-Impacted Communities Restored – KFYR-TV (R. Wardner, B. Bowman, M. Schneider)

We Will Remember Your Vote – KXMB-TV

Senate Restores Chunk of Money to Oil Country – KXMB-TV (D. Cook, B. Bowman)

4.20.13 – 4.22.13

Print:

Adjournment looms for North Dakota Legislature – Associated Press (C. Triplett, D. Drovdal, C. Headland, K. Armstrong)

No agreement yet on oil extraction tax – Bismarck Tribune (D. Cook, D. Drovdal, M. Dosch, T. Flakoll)

Committee reaches agreement on state employee pay – Bismarck Tribune (R. Wardner, T. Mathern)

Senate votes to reconsider higher ed proposal – Bismarck Tribune (M. Schneider, R. Erbele, J. Dotzenrod)

House fails to override home rule charter veto – Bismarck Tribune

House OKs incentives to reduce flaring – Bismarck Tribune (D. Drovdal)

ND lawmakers back measure aimed at curbing natural gas flaring – Associated Press

ND Senate approves $5 million grant for tribal colleges – Associated Press

Obamacare presents a mixed bag of options for N.D.’s health insurance market – Forum Communications

Thousands in Minn., N.D. will be eligible for health insurance subsidies – Forum Communications

Flood warnings issued; warm-up could be at hand – Forum Communications

As Crystal workers head back to jobs, resentments linger – Forum Communications

Petitions approved for abortion law challenge – Associated Press

North Dakota hunting and fishing fees increasing next year – Associated Press

Oil patch housing pinch spurs home manufacturing idea – Bismarck Tribune

Judicial system in Greenwood family’s blood – The Dickinson Press

Vote on guns puts Heitkamp in national political spotlight – Associated Press

Cramer makes staff changes in Washington – Forum Communications

Sen. wants silos retained – Minot Daily News

Democrats to honor Conrad – Bismarck Tribune

Opinion

Bismarck Tribune Editorial: Prepare for a “big surge” in Bakken

Minot Daily News Editorial: A new town in N.D.?

LLOYD OMDAHL, Column: Church must ‘teach its own’ about values

Nick Smith, Column: Blunt floor statement in the Senate – (D. Cook, C. Triplett, G. Keiser, M. Sitte)

Steve Scheel, Fargo, Letter: Chancellor Shirvani must go

Linda Thomas Anderson, Moorhead, Letter: We’ll kick trashy legislation to the gutter where it belongs

Judy Estenson, Warwick, Letter: Forum wrong about animal abuse measure

John Hougen, Bismarck, Letter: Religious freedom being restricted

Leon Mallberg, Dickinson, Letter: Exclude no one from the process 

Great Plains News:

Two ND governor vetoes upheld in state House – (L. Klemin, R. Weisz, T. Porter)

Money for new University of North Dakota medical school in jeopardy – (E. Glassheim, M. Strinden, A. Carlson)

TV:

Medical Amnesty Bill Fails – KFYR-TV (C. Mock, A. Carlson)

Synthetic Drugs Bill – KFYR-TV (K. Armstrong)

Abortion Petitions Approved – KFYR-TV

Senators Approve Pay Package for State Employees – KXMB-TV (R. Holmberg)

Dem-NPL leaders to GOP: Don’t touch the oil extraction tax this session

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – During a conference committee meeting on HB 1234 Monday, Representative David ‘Skip’ Drovdal, R-Arnegard, offered an amendment which would reduce the oil extraction tax from 6.5% to 6%. The amendment was not acted on by the committee. In reaction, House Minority Leader Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall, and Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, issued the following joint statement:

The GOP amendment to reduce the oil extraction tax by nearly 8% is both procedurally underhanded and substantively wrongheaded.

We are on day 72 of a legislative session that is limited to, at most, 80 days. To think that we should gin up a cut to the oil extraction tax that stands to cost the people of North Dakota hundreds of millions of dollars in the first decade alone, without any meaningful opportunity for public input, smacks of a thoughtless brand of arrogance. The amendment to reduce the oil extraction tax also threatens to scuttle longstanding, good faith efforts to negotiate a new oil revenue sharing agreement between the Three Affiliated tribes and the state, something that would provide stability to the oil industry as it continues to work with the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation to develop oil resources.

As a policy matter, the reduction in the oil extraction tax in this manner simply fails to serve any valid public purpose. Perhaps the sponsor of the amendment seeks to make the stripper well loophole closure “revenue neutral.” If this is indeed the rationale behind the proposed cut to the oil extraction tax, it is flawed. House Majority Leader Al Carlson has himself been quoted as saying, “Our stripper well tax policy is just plain bad tax policy.” When confronted with a loophole that is “plain bad tax policy,” we should close it. That isn’t cause to permanently cut the oil extraction tax and deprive future generations of North Dakotans of funds which can be used to address oil impacts, invest in education, and sustain property relief.

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Dem-NPL legislators’ calls to restore oil impact funding heeded by GOP majority

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Dem-NPL legislators today were encouraged by a vote in the North Dakota Senate to restore funding to address oil impacts in western North Dakota. A floor amendment by Senator Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, largely answers Dem-NPL calls to restore funding to address infrastructure and other oil patch needs that were cut from HB 1358 by the GOP majority earlier this month.

“This isn’t a win for one party or another,” said Senate Dem-NPL Leader Mac Schneider of Grand Forks. “This is a win for western North Dakota. However, other priorities for communities facing impacts from the oil boom remain unaddressed. We will continue our work on that front while also staying sharp in defending these gains as HB 1358 heads to conference committee.”

After $417 million was cut from HB 1358 by the Senate GOP majority on April 5, Dem-NPL legislators outlined a three-part strategy to restore funding for roads, hospitals, and human service providers in oil-impacted communities. Specifically, Senator Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks intended to offer a floor amendment to restore the entirety of the cuts to HB 1358. If that amendment failed, Senator Jim Dotzenrod, D-Wyndmere, planned on advancing a floor amendment to restore the $130 million in cuts to funding for roads in western North Dakota. A related effort by Senator John Warner, D-Ryder, to restore $10 million for critical access hospitals and $6 million for human service needs by amending the Department of Human Services budget from the floor failed last week.

The amendments to HB 1358 restore funding for a variety of items, including most prominently $100 million in road funding for the western part of the state. While funding for critical access hospitals and other needs were not restored by the full Senate today, Dem-NPL legislators vowed to work to meet these needs as conference committees continue their deliberations during these final days of the session.

Passage of the complex floor amendment, which was not shared with Dem-NPL senators prior to Monday’s 1:00 p.m. floor session, followed a contentious debate over procedure. To allow senators more time to consider the substance of the amendment, Senator Schneider made a motion to place HB 1358 to the bottom of the calendar so the bill could be voted on during the Senate’s 4:30 p.m. session. The motion failed, and shortly thereafter Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner “moved the previous question,” a motion which ends debate on a topic.

“We were reading the amendment as fast as we could, and we largely liked what we saw,” Schneider added. “But funding for critical needs in western North Dakota shouldn’t be reduced to a flash card game. With a short interval to fully consider these amendments, I believe we could have improved the bill.”

HB 1358 now moves to the House for consideration. Appointment of a conference committee is highly likely.

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