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Rep. Rick Holman – Week 15 Legislative Report

Legislative Report, Rep. Rick Holman, April 8, 2015

 
Friday of this week will be the 65th day of the 64th legislative session. On Monday, we were not only predicting whether Wisconsin or Duke would come out on top but we were also attempting to pick a day and time that we will finish our work and head home. There’s a rumor that we may wrap up with five of the allowed eighty days left to have the ability to return in case something needs to be fixed in the interim. The next full session does not start in until January of 2017.

On Tuesday, the six member Human Resources subcommittee that I serve on moved the 3.5 billion dollar human services budget to full Appropriations. Due to the drop in revenue, funding for many items was reduced from the Governor’s proposed budget. In most cases, however, funding is an increase from the previous biennium budget. Since the Senate and House versions of SB 2012 have dramatic differences, a six-member Conference Committee with three Representatives and three Senators will be set up to reach a workable compromise.

In full Appropriations we are working on the funding bill for K-12 education which will continue the increased school funding of the past session. Just a few years ago, school operations were split with half from local property tax and half from the state. State support was $6000 per student. For the past couple of years that amount has been raised to $9000 tied to a lower property tax rate. Legislation will continue funding and tax relief at that level for the next two years.

Another issue that has been discussed for many years has been the local share for the Human Services delivered at county cost. SB 2206 requires that county costs tied to local property taxes will be replaced with state funding. According to preliminary figures, Traill Co. will save, $272,000 (3,39 mills), Grand Forks Co., $2,108,000 (4.65 mills), and Cass Co. $4,386,000 (3.92 mills).

Establish priorities and be patient. The North Dakota Constitution does not allow for deficit spending, hence any spending increases need to be justified not only for need, but also for available funds. Over the next couple of weeks, there will be smiles and frowns as some of the hopes and dreams when oil and a
Ag prices were high will have to be adjusted. The Governor is the chief administrator, but only the legislature or a vote of the people can create or adjust the laws of our state. This requires teamwork. In order to reach that final day on schedule, the House and Senate members will need to work together and send good legislation for the Governor’s signature.
Not everything we do has a great impact, but is important to someone. Here’s an example. State law regulates snowmobile user fees and fuel taxes. SB 2164 raises the fee for a snowmobile license from $15 to $25 and uses state gas tax collected from 40 gallons times the number of registered snowmobiles. (Previously 30 gallons) The money collected is used for the creation and management of snowmobile trails. Fees and taxes collected provide a direct benefit to the snowmobile owner.

Welcome to spring as soon as it arrives.

Rep. Rick Holman, rholman@nd.gov.   Call or text, 701-238-1124

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