Greetings from the Sixty-Third Session of the North Dakota Legislature.Representative Rick Holman – February 9, 2013
We had a nice turnout for our Forum in Hillsboro on Saturday morning with lots of good questions and follow-up discussion. The next Forum will be in Hatton at Double-D’s Cafe on February 23rd at 9:00 a.m.This week, the House Human Services Committee finished going over the proposed budget for the Human Services Department. Over 2.7 billion dollars is needed to take care of people in need, whether it be for children, elderly, disabled, disadvantaged, or just going through a difficult time in life, the state of ND does a good job of providing support to help improve or maintain quality of life when circumstances put someone in a position of needing assistance. Over 2000 state and county employees combined with a wide variety of providers including several non-profits such as Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities, provide the services. The list of services includes: Economic Assistance, Child Support, Children and Families, Aging Services, Long Term Care, Medical Services, Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Vocational Rehabilitation. The budget for 2013-2015 shows an increase of 141 million dollars, with 93 million of that because of decreased federal funding due to the strong North Dakota economy. For the next couple of weeks we will work on amendments and adjustments to the proposed budget. I’ve been often asked; what we are doing about lowering taxes? All types of taxes are part of the overall discussion with numerous proposals coming forward. In the House and Senate, there have been 28 sales tax bills, 45 property tax bills, and 29 income tax bills. As you might surmise, most of them will not survive the process. By the end of the session, a few with some amending and blending of ideas will work their way through and find their way to become law. At the center of the discussion is the Governor’s proposal to more fully fund schools with a subsequent reduction in property tax. Also under discussion is a renter’s credit on income tax, and expanded homestead credit on homes, and a change in what sales would be exempt from sales tax. What do you think would be best? Let us know. With crossover in a couple of weeks, we still have to act on about half of the nearly 500 proposed House bills. Floor sessions will be extended for the next two weeks. You can watch the sessions by going to the Legislative Web page and clicking on the video link. http://www.legis.nd.gov/
Here are just a few of the many votes this past week: HB 1367: Allows more hours for Sunday bars. Failed.
HB 1139: Restricts certain farm machinery on roads. Failed.
HB 1414: Raises the minimum wage. Failed.
HB 1435: Improves the law for medical information theft. Passed.
HB 1130: Allowed Game and Fish to set license fees. Failed.
HB 1287: Change eligibility for career and tech scholarships. Passed.
HB 1264: Changes of rules for geese damaging crops. Passed.
HB 1297: Forgives Minot loans for lost homes. Failed.
HB 1307: Requires teachers to have entire year’s plan in advance. Failed.
HB 1305: Prohibits abortions for sex selection. Passed.
HB 1456: Limits abortions after detectable heartbeat. Passed.
HB 1455: Allows personal reps access to social media accounts. Passed.
HB 1328: Limits tuition increases at colleges. Failed.
HCR 3025: A resolution to commend NDSU for football success. Passed.
HB 1040: Relates to the appointment of a guardian. Passed.
HB 1249: Appoints legislative members to the State Investment Board. Passed.
HB 1421: Provides funding for milk break for elementary children. Failed. An interesting additional topic this week relates to the ND Open Meetings Law. Except for Political Party caucus meetings all meetings of the legislature are subject to the Open Meetings and Records Law. Meetings of a quorum of Standing Committee members must be open and receive prior public notice. Groups of Republican committee members were meeting on policy positions, and without notice, which violates North Dakota’s “Sunshine Law” by keeping the press and others away from their discussion. After the Democratic leadership brought the violation into the light, we hope the practice will stop.
As you can see the topics are as varied as the people in the legislature. North Dakota’s legislature includes representation from every occupation, every age group, and every part of the state. Visitors this past week included Hospital and Clinic Administrators, EMS Providers, Insurance/Investments Managers, and Credit Unions. If you are planning a visit to the Legislature, let us know in advance so we can set up a time to visit. Our schedule is usually full, so planning ahead is important.On Facebook: ND District 20 Legislative Dem Team Rep. Rick Holman, (701) 238-1124, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com On the Web: http://d20news.com On Facebook: ND District 20 Legislative Dem Team