Legislative Report, January 12, 2013
Representative Rick Holman, ND District 20
The 2013 Legislative Assembly began its four-month session at noon on Tuesday, January 8th with a joint Senate/House session. After all newly elected state officials completed the Oath of Office; Governor Dalrymple outlined his proposal for the 2013-2015 biennium. Because of the dual success of the energy and agricultural industries and increases in the state’s population and personal income, tax revenues are at record levels. Along with a reduction in taxes, He proposed significant one-time expenditures for education and infrastructure, as well as increases in ongoing expenses to keep up with inflation. As the session progresses, legislators from both sides will come forward with challenges and changes. Subsequent columns will address some of those issues as they move forward.
I have been assigned to the 21 member House Appropriations Committee which is divided into three sub-committees. For two days, the full committee received budget overviews from the Office of Management and Budget, the Water Commission, the Department of Public Instruction, the Oil and Gas Division, and the National Guard. Serving on the six-member HS Appropriations Sub-Committee means I will be addressing many of the issues that deal with “people care”, from the standpoint of state funding. On Friday, we began going through the 2.7 billion dollar budget for the Department of Human Services. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act which provides health care to more people will be part of the discussion. I’ll provide additional comments in a subsequent article.
Here are just a few of this week’s other issues.
Transportation: Significant increases in state funding are proposed. I’ll address that later.
PK-12 Education and Tax Relief: The Governor’s proposal increases the amount of property tax relief to over 700 million dollars by implementing a new funding formula and reducing the school levy to 50 mills. If adopted, the state will cover about 82% of school operating, raising the state’s share from about $4000 per student, just a few years ago, to $9000. While this has the possibility of significantly lowering property tax, several other tax relief proposals will be coming forward to reach other segments of the population such as an income tax credit for renters or allowing more people additional tax relief on their primary residence.
Higher Education: Colleges and Universities will begin the first round of budget presentations with Mayville State President Gary Hagen presenting to Senate Appropriations on Monday, January 14th. Several campuses, including MaSU, UND and NDSU, have requested one-time funding for badly needed building projects. Likely to enter the legislative discussion will be changes in the funding formula and enrollment criteria proposed by the Board of Higher Ed. Our Caucus is also working for ways to enhance child care, early childhood education and Head Start, all needed to maintain a healthy environment for our state’s growing population of families with young children.
Water: Two outlets, pumping from Devils Lake into the Sheyenne have removed some of the immediate threat in that area. A side benefit from the water removal has been stabilization of the water supply for both Fargo and Grand Forks which had a welcome supplement to Red River flows during this unusually dry year. In addition, flood mitigation in several communities, including Minot, Bismarck and Fargo will continue to be addressed.
Energy Development: The development of oil and gas combined with wind, water and coal will not likely slow down the impact of energy production on our state anytime soon. This past year, around 200 drilling rigs have been operating, with each able to drill as many as ten wells in one year at a cost of about nine million dollars each. This rate of development will continue for many years adding to the 8000 wells currently producing. The consequences of this activity can be positive for some and negative for others. The need for improved roads, more law enforcement, more child care, more emergency services, more schools, more housing, more medical services, etc., all need to be addressed. The state has a responsibility to work with both public and private entities to see that disruptions caused by rapid development do as little damage to people, their lifestyle and their surroundings as possible, helping everyone to benefit from an improved quality of life.
One last note: As a result of the November election there are seventeen new legislators in the ND House; seven in our Democratic Caucus. We will miss the experience and knowledge of those who returned to private life but I’m extremely excited about the talent and energy of our new colleagues. I believe that the variety of talent and experience they bring to the legislative process will generate new and exciting ideas to move North Dakota forward.
If you have questions or comments, contact us: Sen. Phil Murphy, Rep. Gail Mooney or myself.
Rep. Rick Holman 701-238-1124
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Web Page: d20news.com, or http://www.district20.com,