Legislative Report for the week of April 14-May 3, 2013
Representative Rick Holman.
After thinking earlier that the 2013 Legislative Session would be over in 75 days, actions in the final days put that thought to rest. The 2013 North Dakota Legislative session ended just after 4:30am on the 80th day with just two and one half hours left of what is constitutionally allowed. What caused this was the early morning defeat of the bill to fund K-12 education led by Majority Leader Carlson. He put us at risk of having a special session in order to negotiate the forwarding of another piece of legislation. In his mind, it worked, but I consider it a misuse of power. Maybe one result was that instead of Rep. Carlson being re-elected leader of the Interim Legislative Management Committee, that important role was given to Sen. Ray Holmberg of Grand Forks. Holmberg is a good choice.
Even though there have been no problems identified with our elections; in future elections, you will be required to have a photo ID to vote. For me, that’s no problem, I have a couple ID’s with me at all times. What if someone doesn’t drive or are in a nursing home? What if someone just moved and doesn’t have a card with their new address? How will it complicate mail balloting? What will be the cost? What segment of our population will be unprepared to vote, hence disenfranchised? These questions will be answered in the 2014 elections.
Twice, Senator Cook from Mandan tried to lower the oil extraction tax, giving more money back to the oil companies. This was not asked for, at least publicly, but kept showing up until the end of the session. It was finally sent away. Actually, in a final bill, a change in what are called stripper wells and letting more of the oil income go to the Fort Berthold Nation, the tax was actually changed in a positive way.
Much of the tax relief rhetoric at both the state and national level is about “creating jobs”. For some of my colleagues, however, the connection is not made to the importance of the worker. Many legislators do not see the benefit of workers organizing to allow employers to work with a group rather than individuals. They don’t see the need to provide additional child care for working families. They don’t see the benefit of providing adequate safety and health care for working families. They don’t recognize that a good salary and benefit package will provide for a stable workforce, with minimal turnover. As we move toward the next session, I’m sure that the impact of the growing economy in our state will require revisiting of many workforce and business issues.
Higher Education has been under a lot of scrutiny. In the end, however, legislators put aside their feelings about the current leadership turmoil and provided significant funding for both operations and new buildings. Going back to statehood, the value of all levels of education is a part of North Dakota history. That message continues in legislation from this session. Mayville State will have new classrooms, UND a new Medical School and remodeled Law School and NDSU a new STEM Center. These are not only a benefit to our schools and college bound students but ultimately to all of us for the graduates they will send into our communities.
Finally, our sparsely populated state requires frequent travel. That means that we expect government to provide reliable roads that take us where we want to go. The 2013 Legislature provided a record amount of funding at all levels; county, township, city and state. Over the next couple of years, when you have to slow down, or take a detour, remember why. You asked for it.
I’m still reflecting on the big picture of what we had accomplished over the past four months and will put together a more detailed summary in a week or so.
Until next time……….Rick Holman. 701-238-1124 firstname.lastname@example.org