Tag: north dakota senate
Oil tax changes shot down in North Dakota – Forum Communications (D. Cook, C. Headland)
N.D. House rejects oil tax restructuring bill – Bismarck Tribune (D. Cook, C. Headland, B. Grande, J. Miller, T. Campbell, D. Schaible, B. Koppelman, D. Larson)
NDSU officials say abortion ‘gag rule’ could stall research – Forum Communications (B. Grande)
North Dakota abortion bill amended to kill sex-ed grant – Bismarck Tribune (J. Miller, T. Campbell, D. Schlaible, B. Koppelman, D. Larson, K. Rohr)
North Dakota Republican Pols To Protest Anti-Abortion Laws: ‘We Have Stepped Over The Line’ – Huffington Post (K. Hawken)
ND Higher Ed Board votes 5-3 to back Chancellor Shirvani – Forum Communications
Board of Higher Ed passes resolution supporting Shirvani – Bismarck Tribune (T. Grindberg, K. Krebsbach)
Voter identification measure debated – Bismarck Tribune (R. Boehning, B. Grande, M. Nathe, R. Streyle, B. Thoreson, A. Wieland, S. Berry)
Free ID would fulfill requirement at polls – Forum Communications
ND officials: Permanent flood protection needed – Associated Press (A. Carlson)
N.D. Gov. Dalrymple owns stock in company that plans to drill near Elkhorn site – Bismarck Tribune \
Great Plains News:
Senator says talk of firing ND college presidents hurt chancellor – (T. Grindberg)
Oil Tax Bill Fails – KFYR-TV (K. Onstad, D. Cook)
House Defeats Measure to Lower Oil Taxes – KXMB-TV
Debate Over Abortion Bills – KFYR-TV (M. Sitte, D. Ruby)
Republican Lawmakers Defend Abortion Bills – KXMB-TV (D. Ruby, M. Sitte, J. Miller)
House Passes Amendment to Abortion Bill – KFYR-TV (J. Boschee, P. Silbernagel)
ND Early Childhood funding has second hearing – Forum Communications (N. Poolman, K. Baesler, M. Nathe)
Lawmakers reject direct payments to residents – Bismarck Tribune (E. Glassheim, R. Boehning, J. Schmidt, K. Koppelman, S. Zaiser, W. Belter)
Witnesses argue over lifting ban on bottle rockets – Bismarck Tribune (B. Thoreson)
ND lawmakers pass roll-your-own cigarettes tax measure – Associated Press
Fargo to build 500,000 new sandbags to prep for flood that could rival 2010, 2011 – Forum Communications
Colorado governor signs bills for checks, limiting magazines – Associated Press
School board’s Strand no stranger to controversy when it comes to preserving aging landmarks – Forum Communications
Legislative forum Saturday – GF Herald
Fargo Forum editorial: A stealth attack on research – (B. Grande)
No checks for you! ND House rejects giving money to residents – (J. Schmidt, S. Zaiser, A. Carlson)
ND superintendent says rural schools don’t want gun policy – (K. Baesler, D. Kiefert)
Hot Box – Valley News Live (M. Sitte)
Memorial Service at the Capitol – KFYR-TV
Bill Addresses Mandatory Reporting of Abuse to Vulnerable Adults – KXMB-TV (M. Schneider, P. Murphy)
Disposal Site Controversy – KFYR-TV
Fargo to Open Sandbag Central to Prepare for Potential Flooding – Valley News Live
North Dakota Retail Bill to Help Grape Growers, Wine Industry – Valley News Live
ND state officials coming out against gun bills – Forum Communications (R. Streyle, M. Sitte, D. Kiefert)
Heavy debate on gun bills – Bismarck Tribune (D. Kiefert, K. Baesler, R. Streyle, B. Grande)
ND bill would close nearly all public info about car crashes – Forum Communications (M. Owens, K. Armstrong)
Bipartisan group of ND lawmakers urges Dalrymple to veto abortion bills – Associated Press (K. Hawken, C. Nelson)
ND higher ed board schedules another special meeting on Chancellor Shirvani – Forum Communications
Oil wells proposed near Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Forum Communications
White Shield: No to oil waste – Bismarck Tribune
Oil Tax Cut Proposal – KFYR-TV
Democrats Oppose Oil Tax Cuts – KFYR-TV (M. Schneider)
DPI Opposes Guns in Schools Bill – KXMB-TV (D. Kiefert)
ND Attorney General Tells Lawmakers to Kill Gun Rights Bill – KXMB-TV (B. Grande)
Early Childhood Development – KFYR-TV
Dems: GOP extraction rate proposal robbing state funds – Forum Communications (G. Sinner, D. Cook, S. Kelsh)
Oil tax sparks partisan fighting – Bismarck Tribune (M. Schneider, G> Sinner, D. Cook, D. O’Connell, D. Drovdal, W. Belter)
ND Dems slam GOP’s oil tax plan – Forum Communications (D. Cook)
Amendment could again halt NDSU sex ed program – Forum Communications (C. Damschen, B. Grande, D. Kiefert, J. Miller)
North Dakota looks to outlaw all abortions – Associated Press (M. Sitte)
Abortion bills yet to make it to Dalrymple’s desk – Forum Communications
North Dakota Senate to hear spate of pro-gun measures – Associated Press
Senate OKs home rule charter measure – Bismarck Tribune (H. Anderson, L. Klemin)
Doctors say ND Legislature’s ‘personhood’ bills violate medical privacy rights – Forum Communications
North Dakota passes restrictive abortion laws – Politico (B. Grande)
House takes up bill that provides $10M for school safety improvements – Bismarck Tribune (L. Laffen, L. Robinson, M. Nathe, T. Flakoll, N. Poolman, T. Beadle, W. Trottier)
North Dakota looks at more abortion restrictions – Forum Communications
ND lawmakers ask for more information from university system – Forum Communications (B. Skarphol)
Williston deaths highlight challenges of policing Oil Patch – Dickinson Press
Staking Roosevelt’s roost – Bismarck Tribune
Blaine Amendment – KFYR-TV (E. Glassheim, K. Koppelman)
Hunting License Bill Fails – KFYR-TV (C. Triplett)
Democrats Say Oil Tax Bill Will Cost ND Billions – KXMB-TV (G. Sinner, D. Cook)
Great Plains News:
ND Dems decry potential $1.3B loss from oil tax cuts – (S. Kelsh, M. Schneider, D. Cook)
State aid to ND religious schools rejected – (B. Grande, D. Rust)
ND chancellor says higher ed admin can be streamlined – (R. Streyle)
3.16.13 – 3.18.13
North Dakota Legislature: Abortion top issues at Capitol this week – Associated Press
Bill seeks transparency in campaign contributions – Forum Communications (L. Luick, D. Dever)
Committee members quiz senator on petition bill – Bismarck Tribune (A. Maragos, P. Hatlestad, D. Hogue, J. Kelsh, L. Bellew, L. Klemin, M. Nathe)
North Dakota House passes bill to restructure higher ed – Forum Communications (J. Heilman, R. Becker, E. Glassheim, B. Skarphol)
Gov. Dalrymple sees successes, potential in ND higher ed system – Forum Communications
Gov. Dalrymple faces choice on abortion restrictions – Associated Press (D. Cook, M. Schneider)
Anti-abortion attorney says heartbeat measure won’t survive legal challenge – Forum Communications
North Dakota close to banning abortions at 6 weeks – Associated Press (B. Grande, C. Triplett, M. Sitte)
Abortion bills passed – Bismarck Tribune (S. Berry, C. Triplett, C. Nelson, M. Sitte, M. Schneider, T. Wanzek, R. Wardner)
2 abortion bills clear Senate, off to Gov. – Williston Herald (C. Triplett, R. Wardner, M. Schneider, M. Sitte, C. Nelson, S. Berry)
Abortion rights group to ND governor: Veto abortion bill – Associated Press
ND senator walks out on abortion bill proceedings – Associated Press (C. Triplett)
North Dakota Senate puts down drone bill – Forum Communications (R. Becker)
Chamber members urged to take action – Forum Communications
Oil industry used 5.4 billion gallons of water in 2012 – Forum Communications
TAKING AIM: Women sound off on both sides of the gun control debate – Forum Communications (B. Grande)
Column, Nick Smith, Bismarck Tribune: Committee labeled as ‘eye candy’ – (M. Nathe, L. Klemin, E. Gruchalla, D. Ruby)
Two Abortion Bills Pass – KFYR-TV (S. Berry, M. Sitte, J. Warner, C. Triplett)
Campaign Contributions Bill – KFYR-TV
ND Senate Passes Abortion Bills – KX News (M. Sitte, C. Triplett, C. Nelson, M. Schneider, R. Wardner)
House Measure Allows Voters to Decide Future of Higher Ed – (B. Skarphol, A. Carlson)
Great Plains News:
Grand Forks senator’s ‘walk-off’ during abortion vote ignites debate – (C. Triplett, R. Wardner)
ND House: Dump Board of Higher Education, appoint university czar – (J. Heilman, E. Glassheim, L. Klemin)
ND Legislature to stay at 80 days – (R. Becker, S. Kelsh)
Dem-NPL House and Senate members issue statement following the failure ‘radical’ and ‘reckless’ oil extraction tax bill
(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Following the failure of Senate Bill 2336 in the North Dakota House by a vote of 87 to 6, Dem-NPL caucus leaders, Senator Mac Schneider and Representative Kenton Onstad, issued the following statement:
“We welcome the defeat of the radical and reckless cut to the oil extraction tax contained in SB 2336. The people of North Dakota stood to lose billions from our one-time harvest of oil resources under the GOP majority’s proposal, and we hope the House’s action is the last gasp of any effort to reduce the extraction tax this session.
However, another deeply flawed bill that would sharply cut the oil extraction tax, HB 1234, is presently before the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee. This bill has almost no support and drew vocal opposition from the oil industry itself. Our friends in the GOP majority should move quickly to reject HB 1234 and set aside the effort to reduce the oil extraction tax once and for all.
We look forward to having this contentious issue behind us and will continue to extend a hand to the majority in a spirit of cooperation. There should now be a renewed focus on addressing the challenges to our infrastructure and quality of life that have arisen secondary to the boom while making permanent investments in our people that will pay off long after the last drop of oil has been drawn from the ground.”
SB 2336 passed the Senate 34-13 in early March.
(BISMARCK, N.D.) – At a press conference today, Dem-NPL legislators called recent calculations on the cost of the oil extraction tax cut proposed by the GOP legislative majority “stunning.” The projections, compiled by the North Dakota Tax Department, predict the reduction of the oil extraction tax contained in SB 2336 would cost the people of North Dakota $1.32 billion in the first five years alone.
“These new numbers, which are unquestionably conservative, really lay bare the radical and reckless nature of the GOP’s oil tax plan,” said Senate Dem-NPL Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks. “The billions in lost revenue under this bill should be used to improve infrastructure, address oil impacts, and continue property tax relief. That the majority would have these priorities shelved in favor of a sharp reduction in the extraction tax is stunning.”
On January 31st, 2013 Democratic lawmakers brought forth a Legislative Council memo that showed the 31% reduction in the oil extraction tax (from 6.5% to 4.5% for new wells drilled in 2017) proposed in SB 2336 would lead to $595 million in reduced revenues in the first five years of its existence. This initial projection was based on data from the Department of Mineral Resources, which assumed daily production for these new wells would be approximately 50 barrels of oil per day.
The $1.3 billion reduction projected under the Tax Department’s calculations rest on an assumption that new wells will produce 200 barrels per day. Though the resulting $1.3 billion five-year loss is dramatic, the 200 barrel-per-day estimate itself almost certainly understates the actual cost to North Dakota.
For instance, Senator George Sinner, D-Fargo, highlighted a chart from the Department of Mineral Resources which demonstrates that new Bakken wells initially produce 1,016 bbls per day with an average decline in production of 65% in year one, 30% in year two, 22% in year three, 19% in year four, 16% in year five and 10% per year thereafter. Under this scenario, the people of North Dakota stand to lose $3.7 billion over the coming half decade under the GOP oil extraction tax cut.
“The GOP majority has yet to be frank with the people about the actual cost of the oil extraction tax cut, but we know for a fact the reduction in revenue quickly adds up to billions upon billions dollars,” said Sinner.
Representative Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall stated that the oil extraction tax cut should be scrapped in favor of a renewed focus on addressing the needs of oil-impacted communities this session.
“Mountrail County alone has stated they need approximately $600 million to address oil and gas impacts and basic operating costs over the next decade,” Onstad said. “You have to ask: Why? Why are Republican lawmakers insisting on going forward with a sharp reduction in the extraction tax when the focus this session should be on assisting our communities?”
SB 2336 is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance and Taxation Committee Tuesday, March 19that 9:00 a.m.
Education was a focus in Bismarck this week. While some legislators are hitting the (bill) books on behalf of our kids, it seems others need to be taken to school. We aim to provide you with a current events lesson in this week’s edition of Capitol Letters (and just so you know we didn’t flunk spelling, we are aware letters are “capital” and assure you the title of this newsletter is a very deliberate, if not necessarily witty, play on words).
The Right Fights: Restoring cuts to schools in Native American communities
This session, we here at Capitol Letters have repeatedly stated the obvious: North Dakota is faced with great opportunity. The one-time harvest of our natural resources puts North Dakota in a position to entirely avoid the difficult choices other states have had to make in recent years when it comes to the fundamental priority of educating our kids.
So in this time of plenty, the changes made to the K-12 funding formula by the House fail to make the grade. Under its House amendments, HB 1319 shortchanges schools serving Native American schoolchildren throughout the state, reducing funds to reservation school districts by over $6 million relative to the amount they would receive under the executive budget. That’s a $2.5 million real-dollar cut from last year’s funding level. It is not the kind of subtraction our kids should be forced to learn, especially when these districts are bracing for the impact of the federal budget sequester.
To help, Senators Joan Heckaman and Richard Marcellais, respectively representing the people of the Spirit Lake Nation and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in the Senate, are working in a bipartisan fashion to provide an equitable K-12 funding formula that works for all North Dakota kids from White Shield to West Fargo, Stanley to Standing Rock, and all parts in between.
Joan and Richard aren’t looking to put legislators’ names on the board over the flawed formula. They’re just looking to make things right. We stand with Senators Heckaman and Marcellais as they work to provide equal educational opportunities to every inquisitive young mind in our state. It’s the right fight for North Dakota.
Head-shaker of the week: Flip flopping on the future
As of Thursday, we were prepared to tout a bipartisan success with Senate passage of SCR 4026. Then came Friday, and now we’re shaking our heads.
This concurrent resolution, co-sponsored by one of the authors of Capitol Letters and group of pragmatic legislators from both parties, would create the “legacy scholarship fund.” Here’s how it would work if passed out of the Legislature and approved by voters: 1) $450 million from the state’s legacy fund would be set aside; 2) this principal, which could never be spent, would be prudently invested to generate a return; and 3) the return would fund merit-based scholarships for North Dakota’s best and brightest in perpetuity. Thus, a small fraction of our state’s one-time harvest of oil revenue would be permanently invested in our state’s most valuable natural resource: Highly-educated young people.
The approach is modeled after Wyoming’s Hathaway Scholarship Program, which has been providing access to higher education and economic opportunity in that state since the mid-2000s. It is working in practice there, and on Thursday the Senate seemed to think this was a pretty fine idea for North Dakota as well when it voted 25-21 to pass SCR 4026.
But not so fast. Today, Senator Tom Campbell (R – Grafton), moved that the Senate reconsider its passage of SCR 4026. Nearly all members of the majority who voted for the resolution Thursday flipped their votes Friday, resulting in the defeat of the resolution.
Sadly, that seems to be the way of things in the Legislature. Some of us want to focus on permanent investments in future generations. The majority? They seem, quite literally in the case of SCR 4026, hung up on what happened yesterday.
More next week
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we leave you with this Irish blessing:
May those that love us, love us.
For those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.
We hope you’re proud of the efforts of your Dem-NPL legislators here in Bismarck. And if not, we hope you’ll at least find a comfy ankle brace. Talk to you next week, keep the faith, and “like” us on Facebook.
Diversion Authority wants amendments removed – Forum Communications
Gruchalla says $500 DUI fine not enough – Forum Communications (E. Gruchalla, K. Armstrong)
Tougher DUI sentences pursued – Bismarck Tribune (K. Armstrong, R. Becker, H. Anderson)
N.D. Senate passes bill to bar future locked-out workers from benefits – Forum Communications (T. Mathern, H. Anderson)
Senate votes on unemployment insurance eligibility – Bismarck Tribune
ND Senate set for vote on abortion measures – Associated Press
ND lawmakers ask TSA to replace body scanners – Associated Press
READ LETTER: 6 former campus heads want Shirvani fired, warn of ‘presidential exodus’ – Forum Communications
University system general counsel finds no evidence of violations – Bismarck Tribune (T. Grindberg)
Census: Williston, Dickinson rank among fastest-growing ‘micro areas’ in nation – Forum Communications
Forum editorial: Reject ND anti-voter resolution – (A. Carlson)
Great Plains News:
Senator says tougher ND drunken driving laws will clog courts – (K. Armstrong)
Bills Dealing with Tougher DUI Penalties Considered – KXMB-TV (K. Armstron, E. Gruchalla, D. Ruby)
DUI bill is losing strength – WDAY-TV (E. Gruchalla, K. Armstrong)
Raw Milk Amendment – KFYR-TV (D. Johnson)
Union Bill Passes – KFYR-TV (T. Mathern, H. Anderson)
Open Meeting Law Allegations – KFYR-TV
Dems express concern about North Dakota abortion bills – Forum Communications (K. Oversen, G. Mooney, A. Looysen)
Packed room for abortion bill testimony – Bismarcl Tribune (S. Berry, O. Larsen)
Oil’s 2011 impact in North Dakota measured at $30 billion – Forum Communications
Study: Oil industry economic impact pegged at $30 billion – Associated Press (M. Schneider)
Study: Oil contributed $30.4B to state’s economy – Bismarck Tribune
Crystal Sugar contests worker benefits ruling – Forum Communications
Drone debate: Privacy vs. economic opportunity – Forum Communications (M. Sitte, C. Kreun, R. Becker)
Property taxes remain hot issue – Williston Herald (B. Skarphol)
Commission waiting on Legislature – Williston Herald
Sen. Heitkamp proposes new census for North Dakota – Forum Communications
Council of regents resolution shot down – Forum Communications (N. Poolman, J. Miller)
Proposal mulled to extend North Dakota legislative session – Associated Press (S. Kelsh)
North Dakota lawmakers propose autism database – Associated Press
Great Plains News:
ND Senate agrees to block jobless benefits in future worker lockouts – (J. Unruh, P. Murphy)
Unemployment Benefits – KFYR-TV (P. Murphy, J. Klein)
Money for Oil Country – KFYR-TV
State Senate Looks at Underage Drinking Bill – KFYR-TV (S. Lyson, C. Nelson, C. Damschen)
Williston Prepares for the Unknown – KFYR-TV
Amendment targets locked-out workers – Forum Communications (J. Klein)
Dalrymple: N.D. lawmakers should stick to property tax relief plan – Forum Communications
Student rep upset over quick Higher Ed Board meeting – Forum Communications
Opponents of drone regulation bill propose study of the issue – Bismarck Tribune (R. Becker, C. Kreun, S. Berry)
Senate denies two bills – Williston Herald (C. Triplett, B. Bowman)
ND legislative session costs estimated $65,000 a day – Associated Press
Abortion bills kick up debate – Bismarck Tribune (B. Grande, D. Hogue)
Doctor: ND laws will spur ‘backroom’ abortions – Associated Press (B. Grande)
Newborns at a Grand Forks nursing home – GF Herald
Jamestown Sun Editorial: Namecalling hides issue of more importance – (J. Haak, A. Carlson)
Fargo Forum editorial: North Dakota Farm Bureau’s duplicity – (T. Flakoll)
School Funding – KFYR-TV
Abortion Debate Continues – KFYR-TV (B. Grande)
Great Plains News:
3.9.13 – 3.12.13
Shortage of child care a real concern in Oil Patch – Forum Communications (K. Hawken, T. Porter, J. Heckaman)
F-M area diversion amendment changes likely, but doubts linger – Forum Communications (A. Carlson, T. Grindberg, R. Holmberg, L. Roinson)
Lawmakers look at election changes – Bismarck Tribune (R. Boehning, A. Maragos, C. Mock, A. Carlson, K. Onstad)
North Dakota Legislatures to address Medicaid expansion, abortion this week – Associated Press (D. Cook, C. Triplett)
No shortage of ideas for retooling North Dakota higher ed – Forum Communications (A. Carlson, J. Heilman, J. Kelsh, R. Becker)
Resolutions seek major changes in higher ed system – Bismarck Tribune (A. Carlson, R. Becker, B. Martinson, M. Nathe, D. Vigesaa, D. Hogue, D. Schlaible, L. Klemin, T. Beadle, J. Dockter, A. Looysen, K. Rohr, M. Schatz, N. Poolman)
Studies focus on oil’s impact on North Dakota wildlife – Forum Communications
Facing increased oil traffic, ND relocates herd of bighorn sheep by helicopter – Forum Communications
Heritage fund Amendment fails – KFGO (T. Axness)
Bighorn sheep moved out of north unit of park – Bismarck Tribune
Oil industry opposes ND House oil tax measure – Associated Press (R. Streyle, D. Cook)
Second Dunn County petition against Gov. Dalrymple dismissed – Forum Communications
Young North Dakotans drawn to public service – Forum Communications (K. Oversen, A. Looysen, C. Mock)
Abortion foe Rep. Bette Grande not afraid of controversy – Forum Communications (B. Grande, W. Belter, B. Amerman)
Bismarck-Mandan freshmen getting in the groove – Bismarck Tribune (N. Poolman, R. Becker, J. Dockter, M. Nathe, D. Larson, C. Mock, N. Toman, V. Laning, T. Porter, M. Dosch, M. Sitte)
ND Senate passes crime compensation measure – Associates Press
Bill would force more public votes on building projects – Forum Communications (J. Kasper)
ND higher ed board to review ‘disturbing’ allegations surrounding Chancellor Shirvani – Forum Communications (T. Grindberg)
Bob Valeu is the new ND Democratic chairman – Associated Press
Great Plains News:
Proposals would dump ND Board of Higher Education – (A. Carlson)
Fixing School Funding Error – KFYR-TV (T. Boe, R. Marcellais, D. Monson)
Amendments to Daycare Bill – KFYR-TV
Animal Cruelty Impacts – KFYR-TV
Two Options on the Table for Dealing with Higher Ed Issues – KXMB-TV (A. Carlson, R. Becker)
Legislators call for change to K-12 education funding formula, restoration of cuts to Native American school districts
(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Senators Richard Marcellais (D-Belcourt) and Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford) and Representative Tracy Boe (D-Mylo) today called for bipartisanship in reconfiguring the state K-12 education formula in HB 1319. Changes recently made to the legislation’s funding formula by the North Dakota House would reduce funding for school districts in Native American communities around the state by millions of dollars in the next biennium.
“While we are strongly supportive of the vast majority of HB 1319, the cuts to funding for schools serving places like Belcourt must be restored,” Marcellais said. “We intend to work on a bipartisan basis to make sure we right this wrong.”
Prior to the legislature’s crossover break, the House Appropriations Committee amended the K-12 funding formula in HB 1319. Specifically, the amendment mandated the use of 100 percent of the state average tax base per weighted student unit (WSU) in the state aid formula for schools with little taxable land within their boundaries. The WSU alteration results in a total of approximately $6 million lost in funding for school districts serving Native American communities.
The Senators noted they would do everything possible to repair the error in the Senate Education Committee and, if necessary, the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“Equal funding for education isn’t just the right thing to do, it is also a right guaranteed under our state’s constitution,” Heckaman said. “Fortunately, a bipartisan coalition is coming together to make changes to the funding formula in HB 1319. We will set things straight as the bill works its way through the Senate.”
“When it comes to fixing this bill, I know we are on the same page,” Boe added. “We look forward to working together and making sure that all our schoolchildren have the same opportunity to benefit from strong public schools across North Dakota.”
The North Dakota Legislature has now crossed over crossover, and with our Wednesday return to the capitol we were faced with a short week. Accordingly, we’re shortening this week’s version of Capitol Letters. However, your Dem-NPL legislators still made time to fight the right fights (and we also came across a thing or two that set our heads shaking). We bring you a recap of the last three days’ action below.
The Right Fights: Preserving North Dakota’s outdoor heritage
When 80 people wearing camouflage show up at a hearing, you know it’s a big deal (at least we thought it was 80 — frankly, their attire made it hard to get a clear count). These Mossy Oak-clad citizens made no attempt to hide their passion for protecting North Dakota’s great outdoors at this week’s dueling hearings on House Bill 1278 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 4027, the latter sponsored by our own Senator Tyler Axness.
Both measures’ stated aim is to promote conservation and preserve opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen in our state. However, the sponsor of House Bill 1278, Representative Todd Porter (R-Mandan), gave a fine how-do-you-do to a couple of groups that represent hunters and outdoorsmen Thursday when his bill was heard by a Senate committee. Specifically, Rep. Porter’s amendment seeks to remove groups like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever from the advisory committee that would help determine conservation priorities in North Dakota, apparently in retaliation for their opposition to the bill when it was considered in the House.
If that makes you want to cry “fowl,” consider Senator Axness’ approach in SCR 4027. The resolution would establish a heritage fund through an amendment to North Dakota’s state constitution. If approved by voters, the measure would generate up to $100 million a year to fund conservation initiatives, prompting one prominent member of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation to describe the resolution to the Bismarck Tribune as “the most important piece of conservation legislation in decades.”
While the measure faced opposition from certain farm groups, we believe we can find a way to respect private property rights while also providing the public with access to the outdoor opportunities that make our state great. That’s the right fight for North Dakota.
Head-shaker of the week: Making it harder for people to initiate ballot measures
North Dakota proudly touts its citizen legislature. Unfortunately, some legislators appear to think they are smarter than our citizens.
That’s the message you might take away from the introduction of House Concurrent Resolution 3011, which would put roadblocks in the place of citizens seeking to check their legislators through the initiated measure process. Most perniciously, the bill would increase the number of signatures required to get a measure on the ballot from 2 percent to at least 3 percent of the state’s population. It would also require petition circulators to gather signatures from 3 percent of county residents in half of the state’s counties.
Did we mention this resolution is sponsored by House Majority Leader Al Carlson? Not yet, we didn’t? Perhaps you may have guessed that HCR 3011 is, indeed, sponsored by Majority Leader Carlson.
We say that the power of the initiated measure has been used responsibly by North Dakotans, pretty much without exception. In fact, we would go so far as to say the people have frequently shown better judgment than their elected representatives when making law through the initiated measure process. We also say . . . don’t mess with it.
That’s all for this abbreviated week here in Bismarck. Keep the faith, keep up the fight, and “like” the Dem-NPL Caucus Facebook page.
Day 38 marks the halfway point of the 80 day legislative session (.475 point for the green-eye-shade-wearing math lovers out there) and the start of crossover break. As your co-authors clack out this week’s edition of Capitol Letters, legislators have gassed up their cars and are making idle chit chat with their colleagues as they prepare to get out of town for five day weekend.
Get out of town? That might be an appropriate reaction to some of the moves by your elected representatives thus far this legislative session. To help you determine whether this expression is best employed in the idiomatic or literal sense, we’ve compiled a brief recap of the top five head-shaking moments during the first half of the session. And to bring you back up, we’ve put together the top five “right fights” being waged here in Bismarck.
Head shakers: top five
5. Pro-discrimination amendments to an anti-discrimination bill
Innocently enough, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill, SB 2252, which would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in North Dakota. Not so innocently, the bill was amended at the urging of Senator David Hogue to 1) expressly state that victims of discrimination on this basis had no rights; 2) widen permissible age discrimination in North Dakota; and 3) limit remedies to those who actually prove they lost their jobs because of discrimination based on race, religion, gender or other reasons. The amendments were thankfully defeated, but so was the bill.
4. Corporate tax cuts over property tax cuts
Both parties agree that we should cut taxes. But Dem-NPL legislators are focused on cutting the taxes people really dislike: property taxes. Not so the GOP majority, which this week shot down a Dem-NPL floor amendment to SB 2156 that would have re-directed $250 million in permanent tax cuts for corporations and reductions in the personal income tax towards deeper property tax relief (reducing property taxes by 12.5%). Now, the bill goes forward with $50 million in cuts to the corporate income tax, 82% of which was paid by out-of-state corporations according to the last year for which data is available.
3. Napping on daycare
We’ve previously discussed the “beyond crisis” we’re facing when it comes to access to childcare in North Dakota. Unfortunately, the House majority is asleep on a carpet square on this issue. A bipartisan bill to partially address this crisis was gutted by House appropriators, leaving kids and parents to fend for themselves.
2. Spilled milk
Speaking of kids, the House’s vote to deny low-income children a carton of milk during snack time has been a widely–covered head shaker. Dem-NPL appropriators in the Senate will be working to right this wrong, because sometimes it’s about snack breaks rather than tax breaks.
1. A radical and reckless cut to the oil extraction tax
The Senate passed SB 2336 this week, a radical and reckless proposal to cut the oil extraction tax for new oil wells drilled in 2017 and beyond. The cost of the cut to the extraction tax is conservatively projected by the Legislative Council to be $595 million in the first five years alone. The GOP retorts that it closes loopholes to pay for this massive cut. It doesn’t. Check out the page A1, below the fold coverage in the Fargo Forum here and arm yourself with the facts about this radical and reckless bill by clicking here. By the looks of this Forum poll, the overwhelming people agree that the GOP’s oil extraction tax cut is radical and reckless. Did we mention the plan is radical and reckless? It is definitely radical. And awfully reckless.
The right fights: top five
5. (Tie) Protecting young and old with Caylee’s Bill and elder abuse reporting
SB 2125, introduced by our young gun, Senator Tyler Axness, protects kids by requiring caretakers to report a missing child. Informally known as Caylee’s Bill, the legislation passed the Senate earlier this month.
For our older citizens, Senator Phil Murphy introduced and helped pass legislation, SB 2323, to require mandatory reporting of elder abuse, a feat that is especially impressive considering the Senate Appropriations Committee had recommended a “do not pass” on the bill. Phil tipped ’em over on the floor, and our seniors will be better off for it.
4. Shining light on corporate and union political spending
This one hasn’t gotten much press attention, but it’s important: Dem-NPL legislators from both chambers have led a bipartisan effort to respond to the Citizens United line of cases, which served to essentially strike down North Dakota’s ban on political spending by corporations and unions. Legislation introduced by a Capitol Letters co-author to require strict disclosure of corporate and union political expenditures has advanced as part of a broader elections bill, aiming to keep state elections free from the corrupting influence of anonymous spending by well-heeled special interests.
3. Property tax cuts for real, live North Dakota residents
Tax cutter Jim Dotzenrod, former chair of the Senate Finance and Tax Committee and now the Dem-NPL’s senior member on that panel, successfully included a provision in a broader tax bill, SB 2036, which would provide a $25,000 reduction in the value of a primary residence for property tax purposes. That’s real relief for working people who own their homes and have been hit by rising property values in recent years.
2. Hooray for pre-k
States across the country, including Georgia, Oklahoma, and Alabama, are rushing to guarantee access to pre-kindergarten for four year olds. While we aren’t exactly “rushing” to do so in North Dakota, we had good news out of the Senate this week when the full body rejected the Senate Appropriations Committee’s unfavorable recommendation and voted to fund pre-kindergarten programs in our state. This longstanding priority of the Dem-NPL will have a tough fight in the House, but we’ve got some tough fighters for our kids in our caucuses.
1. Medicaid expansion
Call it health care reform. Call it Obamacare, if you want. We call Medicaid expansion a common sense opportunity to expand access to health care for working North Dakotans and help shore up our providers’ bottom lines while we’re at it (this broad coalition agrees). Medicaid expansion passed the House yesterday by a pleasantly surprising margin. I guess that means Medicaid expansion isn’t just a Dem-NPL priority anymore, and we’re fine with that. So call it what you will. It looks like we’ll soon be calling Medicaid expansion the law.
More after the break
As astonished as you are at some of the majority’s actions, your Capitol Letters co-authors can tell you that you should be exceptionally proud of your Dem-NPL legislators. They are fighting the right fights and, more often than you might think, winning them. We’re honored serve with a group that is both effective and compassionate.
More when we return to Bismarck on Wednesday. So after you’re done liking us on Facebook, please enjoy the rest of the week. As always, keep the faith.
North Dakota oil tax rate in middle of pack – Forum Communications (O’ Connell, M. Schneider, D. Cook)
ND Senate denies sales tax exemption for clothes – Associated Press
N. Dakota House approves Medicaid expansion bill – Associated Press (A. Carlson, R. Weisz, C. Pollert, S. Louser)
N.D. House embraces Medicaid Expansion – Forum Communications (R. Becker, T. Porter, R. Weisz)
House votes for Medicaid expansion – Bismarck Tribune (R. Becker, R. Weisz, J. Kasper, T. Porter, C. Pollert, D. Ruby, A. Carlson)
North Dakota House passes stiffer DUI penalties – Forum Communications (K. Koppelman, M. Brandenburg, C. Mock)
N.D. House vote hikes DUI penalties – Bismarck Tribune (K. Koppelman, D. Kiefert, J. Delzer, R. Becker, C. Damschen)
ND House passes state water bill with ‘diversion killing’ amendments – Forum Communications (S. Kelsh, K. Hawken, B. Grande, J. Kasper, E. Gruchalla, J. Heilman)
Nonpublic schools’ contract bill voted down – Bismarck Tribune (M. Dosch, K. Rohr, D. Rust, J. Nelson)
ND Senate reverses course, votes to include funds for buyout of higher ed chancellor – Forum Communications (T. Grindberg)
Second effort to provide buyout for chancellor passes – Bismarck Tribune (K. Krebsbach, J. Andrist, D. Dever, B. Skarphol)
Amendment would eliminate higher ed board – Forum Communications (A. Carlson, R. Becker, T. Beadle, N. Poolman, J. Dockter, A. Looysen, K. Rohr, M. Schatz)
Big win for UND med school in N.D. Senate – Forum Communications (B. Skarphol, R. Erbele)
Oil tax reduction passes state Senate – Williston Herald (R. Wardner, M. Schneider, G. Froseth, B. Skarphol)
North Dakota measure allows public money for lobbyists – Associated Press
Locked-out Crystal workers in North Dakota wait for benefits details – GF Herald (P. Murphy)
BIA, FBI hear stories of child abuse, vow to ‘make improvements’ at Spirit Lake – Grand Forks Herald
North Dakota oil boom leaves oil patch city a bust – Bloomberg News
Fargo Forum Editorial: Higher ed kettle still steaming – (T. Grindberg)
Bill to eliminate sales tax on clothing fails – KXMB-TV (G. Sinner)
House passes diluted DUI bill – KFYR-TV (D. Kiefert, K. Koppelman, K. Hogan, C. Mock)
Clothing tax exemption fails – KFYR-TV (J. Lee, G. Sinner)
House says no to private school funding – KFYR-TV (D. Rust)
Expanding Medicaid – KFYR-TV (R. Becker)
Chancellor reaction – KFYR-TV
House approves DUI law – KXMB-TV (D. Kiefert, K. Koppelman, K. Kempenich, R. Boehning, C. Damschen, J. Delzer)
MN Gay marriage bill introduced at Capitol – Valley News Live
Senate OKs bill restructuring oil tax – Bismarck Tribune (D. Cook, C. Triplett, R. Wardner)
N.D. Supreme Court rules in favor of American Crystal Sugar employees – Bismarck Tribune
North Dakota Senate supports early childhood education grants – Forum Communications (T. Flakoll, N. Poolman, T. Wanzek, C. Hofstad, G. Keiser, G. Froseth, T. Porter)
House kills bill for ethics commission – Associated Press (C. Mock)
Outdoor heritage fund passes House – Bismarck Tribune (T. Porter)
Voter ID bill passes North Dakota House – Bismarck tribune
House kills proposed fee on industrial water sales – Bismarck Tribune (G. Keiser)
ND Senate passes higher ed budget with some changes – Forum Communications (R. Holmberg)
Shirvani ‘humbled’ by Senate vote – Associated Press (T. Grindberg)
ND Senate rejects Shirvani buyout funding by one vote – Forum Communications (T. Grindberg, C. Triplett, R. Holmberg, K. Krebsbach, B. Skarphol)
Effort to provide buyout for chancellor fails – Bismarck Tribune (T. Grindberg, J. Andrist, H. Anderson, C. Triplett, J. Miller, R. Holmberg)
Budget impacts N.D. – Minot Daily News
As energy boom nears cities, backlash grows – Associated Press
Forum editorial: An attempt to scuttle diversion? – (A. Carlson)
Grand Forks activist loses appeal against state election official – Grand Forks Herald
Great Plains News:
Unhappy with treasurer pay raise, ND House rejects budget – (M. Nathe, A. Carlson, K. Schmidt)
ND House approves $500M income tax cut – (C. Mock, A. Carlson)
Proposal defeated to make ND voter initiatives tougher to get on ballot – (B. Kretschmar, K. Kempenich)
Senate Passes Oil Tax Bill – KFYR-TV (M. Schneider, T. Axness, D. Cook, R. Wardner)
Senate Approves Lower Oil Extraction Tax – KXMB-TV (J. Dotzenrod, C. Triplett, D. Cook, T. Axness, R. Wardner)
Locked-Out ACS Union Workers Eligible for Unemployment Benefits – Valley News Live (P. Murphy)
Shirvani Stays – KFYR-TV (T. Grindberg, R. Holmberg)
Property Tax Exemption Bill Fails – KFYR-TV (J. Miller)
Mayor Walaker reacts to diversion decision – WDAY-TV (A. Carlson)
ND bill aims to protect seniors, vulnerable adults – Associated Press (P. Murphy)
Bill could hurt diversion hopes – Forum Communications (A. Carlson, R. Guggisberg)
ND House panel passes Medicaid expansion bill, adds three amendments – Forum Communications (R. Weisz, T. Porter, C. Damschen, A. Fehr)
North Dakota House committee approves Medicaid expansion – Associated Press
Gun-friendly bills advancing in North Dakota House, including concealed weapons in school, church – Forum Communications (G. Froseth, D. Kiefert, B. Amerman, R. Becker, D. Larson, R. Streyle, W. Kretschmar)
North Dakota House passes school gun bill – Bismarck Tribune (G. Froseth, D. Kiefert, K. Koppelman, B. Amerman)
Lawmakers propose direct payments to ND residents – Forum Communications (M. Nelson, V. Steiner, J. Heilman, T. Axnesss, G. Paur, G. Mooney)
Resolutions would allow state to give money back to residents – Bismarck Tribune (V. Steiner, D. Larson, L. Delmore, M. Nelson, R. Boehning, L. Bellew, D. Ruby, M. Schatz)
Lawmakers tackle guns, taxes and divorce in floor session – Bismarck Tribune
Student rep on state Board of Higher Education to bring up Shirvani buyout at meeting – Forum Communications (T. Grindberg)
Students: Shirvani opposition based on record – Forum Communications
F-M flood diversion project could be greatly affected by new state amendments – WDAY (A. Carlson,
Microbrew License Proposal passes Senate – KFYR-TV (P. Murphy)
Reporting Missing Children – KFYR-TV (M. Sitte, T. Axness)
State Lawmakers Discuss Gun Bills – KFYR-TV (L. Delmore, D. Kiefert, D. Larson, B. Amerman)
House Votes on Bills to Expand Gun Rights – KXMB-TV (R. Becker, K. Koppelman, G. Froseth, D. Kiefert)
Great Plains News:
ND Legislature heads into final week before midsession break – (A. Carlson)
ND House endorses concealed guns in public places – (R. Becker, K. Koppelman)
2.23.13 – 2.25.13
Medicaid, oil taxes among week’s issues in North Dakota Legislature – Associated Press (R. Weisz, D. Cook, K. Karls)
North Dakota legislative notebook: More scholarship money may become available – Forum Communications (T. Flakoll, G. Mooney, M. Brandenburg, C. Headland, R. Brabandt)
Lead-foot legislators: Some ND lawmakers speed outside the law – Forum Communications (C. Triplett, D. Ruby, B. Koppelman)
Welfare drug test bill killed by North Dakota House – Forum Staff Report
North Dakota bill requiring warrant for drone use passes House – Forum Communications (R. Becker, L. Delmore)
North Dakota House passes aerial drone bill; kills welfare drug test bill – Bismarck Tribune (R. Becker, L. Delmore, C. Kreun, C. Mock, M. Nathe, R. Holman, G. Mooney, D. Ruby, B. Grande, C. Pollert)
Senate tackles tax bills – Bismarck Tribune
Legislature on track to meet crossover deadline – Bismarck Tribune (R. Wardner, A. Carlson)
Committee approves HB 1215 – Williston Herald
Numerous firearms bills debated during North Dakota Legislature – Minot Daily News
Former Sen. Conrad mourns death of dog Dakota – Forum Communications
Guns in school: Some North Dakota lawmakers want to let school boards decide issue in secret – Forum Communications (D. Kiefert)
UND Student Senate introduces resolution for vote on Chancellor Shirvani – Grand Forks Herald
Nick Smith, Column: Debates prompt interesting comments – (L. Robinson, N. Poolman, T. Flakoll, J. Kasper, C. Kreun)
Great Plains News:
ND Senate settles on property tax plan – (D. Cook)
No drug tests for welfare applicants, ND House decides – (G. Mooney, D. Ruby)
Get a warrant for drone surveillance, North Dakota House says – L. Delmore, M. Nathe, R. Becker)
ND House backs lawsuit against feds over wetlands – (C. Headland)
ND pension funds should divest from Iran, House decides – (G. Mooney, E. Glassheim)
Money for ND wine industry angers Senate Ag Committee chairman – (J. Miller, J. Dotzenrod)
State Senate Votes on Property Tax Bills – KFYR-TV (G. Sinner, D. Cook)
ND House Passes Corridor Bill – KFYR-TV (T. Porter, B. Skarphol, J. Kelsh)
Oil Tax Fund Reaches $850 Million – Valley News Live
Since I last wrote to you, some positive things have occurred: I was charged with carrying 2219 which is a bill that supports the Community Action Energy Conservation program through a grant. They insulate homes for lower income people across the state and have been doing that since 2001. This action helps keep people in their homes and promotes a stable workforce. Greg Beck, a former student of mine at MayPort CG, has worked at this for years out of Dickinson, I believe. He and about 60 others who perform this service were delighted that we were able to move this legislation forward, but it still needs to get through the House. There was some discussion about making the money to fund this into zero percent loans that poor people could then pay back, but their income status keeps them from having any money left over at the end of the month, so the grant stayed in place.
We also were able to move Pre-Kindergarten legislation yesterday. Bill 2229 supports the idea of giving schools the ability to set up a pilot program for our 4 year olds to help them get ready for Kindergarten. My wife teaches Kindergarten and has all too many children show up who have not been read to or taught to hold a pencil or color crayon. Some cannot handle bathroom duties. This is not a good situation when the new national set of academic expectations called Common Core is pushing down demands all the way to our 5 year olds. Many children are simply not ready to match these new benchmarks and some argue that they are not developmentally appropriate. At any rate, the statistics overwhelmingly favor children who have spent some time in Early Childhood. Our children need it to compete with people from other countries (they outperform us in academics partly because they start earlier), other USA citizens that offer this service, not to mention our fellow North Dakotans – there are at least 47 school districts whose parents have demanded this. We just okayed $912 million for our state corrections system (well-run by a Hillsboro native, by the way). Almost a billion dollars for a state of less than 700,000 people. Programs like Pre-K and Headstart have a direct impact on school success that cuts down on the pipeline to prison and I know which part of that equation I would rather spend money on.
Congratulations to the locked out workers on the ND Supreme Court ruling. Unfortunately, I am afraid our legislature will pass a law that will clearly deny any unemployment compensation. To me, this is what should have happened – use the fund that the company pays into for unemployment instead of workers needing to go to our Social Services and depleting those funds. The majority party may even amend my bill -which will be heard today- to flip it on its head and turn it into a weapon to strip workers of their unemployment. I have asked them not to do that because, while legal, it is unethical to pervert an effort to help workers receive compensation. The majority party can do what they wish in others ways that are not disingenuous, but we will know by the time you read this. It is perfectly legal to slap your neighbor on the back and leave a “Kick me” sign there, but it is not the way to behave, and I hope that it does not go down that way.