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Legislative Report, Week 7 • Rep. Rick Holman, Feb. 24, 2013

Greetings from the Sixty-Third Session of the North Dakota Legislature.
Representative Rick Holman   February 24, 2013

We are heading in to crossover and have over a hundred bills to vote out in just three or four days.  It’s in times like this that we rely on our colleagues to help us see the positives and negatives of each proposal. My time, since I’m on the Appropriations Committee, has been spent carefully going over the many bills which require funding.  Anything over $5000 must be approved by this committee, hence funding requests range from $5000 to nearly 2.8 billion for the Human Services Department budget. As part of the process, we examine each budget in detail. I have come to the conclusion that the state of North Dakota has a lot of very competent, professionals running our states many departments. When legislators ask questions, answers are also given in a professional, detailed manner.  We, as legislators, come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and are not always able to quickly comprehend the complexity of what our state professionals deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes even if a questions shows a lack of understanding by the person asking, the answer is given as if it was a great question. 

I just finished reading the Forum story on Legislative traffic violations and noticed that I was fortunate to be on the list of, “never been caught”.  Not being on the list of violators does not mean that I have never speeded, or run a stop sign.  I have to admit, that I do drive through on yellow, and often don’t come to a full stop at a stop sign.  I usually drive 3 to 5 miles over the speed limit. So, not making the list does not mean that I have never broken the traffic laws. I do support, however, raising the traffic fines as proposed as long as they are not out of proportion with surrounding states and are acceptable to those who have to enforce the laws.

House Bill 1183 which does not allow in-state law enforcement to cooperate with Federal authorities when a firearm was used in the investigation passed the House. This is an action that is not supported by nearly all local law enforcement authorities and may actually hinder the protection of North Dakota citizens and allow an offender to go unpunished.  The vote was close. I hope the Senate will do what we should have done and put this bad idea away.

In the next few days we will see what will be coming forward from the Taxation Committees for consideration by the Senate and House.  Several proposals are still being considered, including the Governor’s proposal (HB 1319) to replace 700 million in local taxes with state funds. We WILL have some form of tax relief but the debate of just how it should be accomplished will continue. Do we give breaks to just ND residents or to all taxpayers? Should we balance the relief between income, sales, and property? Should we lower the oil extraction tax? Should renters receive an income tax credit? Should sales tax be lowered? Should the homestead credit be broadened? Many of these questions have already been voted on, but until the session is over, changes can still be made. Your opinion counts.

The Human Services Sub-Committee on which I serve, in reviewing House Bill 1012, made many cuts in programs for those in need, and likely will be supported by the entire House. Hopefully, as the process continues to the end of the session, moderation will prevail.  On a good note, it looks like the House will support the Medicaid Expansion (HB 1362), which will provide health care to 20,000 of our neighbors who currently don’t have coverage ultimately saving money for both the state and those of us who have health insurance coverage.

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.
Rep. Rick Holman, 701.238.1124, rholman@nd.gov, rholman111@gmail.com

On the Web: http://d20news.com/  On Facebook: ND District 20 Legislative Dem Team

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