View the schedule of bills for the week of January 23rd here: Week 4 NDACo Schedule
County Engineers Nick West and Dana Larsen testified in support of HB 1147 which proposes $100 million to local bridges in townships and counties. The engineers helped explain the bridge needs in counties along with the funding challenges related to replacing the many bridges in need of replacement across North Dakota counties. Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute Needs Study indicates there is a total of $715 million in bridge needs over 20 years. This breaks out to $688 million in bridge replacement and $27 million in bridge maintenance.
“I’m excited by the potential impact this bill could have, if passed it certainly would be historic,” said Grand Forks Engineer Nick West. “Counties across North Dakota need long term funding solutions to better plan and prioritize future road projects. Increases in state funding through this bill are critical to maintaining our highway and bridge network. Without this additional funding, we will not be able to keep up with the required maintenance and replacement of our bridges and our system will deteriorate. Consistent
long‐term funding would allow all County’s to effectively plan and construct projects.”
The bill would take interest from the Legacy Fund and divide it into two pots for bridges, $80 million would be distributed to counties, with more than $500,000 in bridge needs based on the UGPTI needs study, a second bucket of $20 million will be available for counties with less than $500,000 in bridge needs. The House Appropriations Committee didn’t take action on the bill.
Also in House Appropriations, NDACo’s Donnell Preskey testified in support of HB 1184, which would provide $18 million a biennium in Law Enforcement Appreciation Grants. She provided the committee with data from a survey conducted with local law enforcement to collect information on recruitment and retention in local departments. “While this bill includes a hefty price tag for you to consider, we as a state, can not afford to do nothing. This is a public safety issue,” said Preskey. “We appreciate your consideration in order to help keep our citizens and communities safe.”
The full Senate Appropriations Committee this week heard the “zone portion” of the DHS Budget – SB2021. A brief history of social service redesign was given, the process of creating the zones was explained, and importantly, the commitment to unique local services was stated. The collaborative work among zones and statewide was a point of interest. The transfer to the DHHS funding account of 98 DHHS employees currently funded in the zone funding stream (property tax relief bucket) was an important factor for the appropriators. The tie to state employee salary adjustments for zone employees was also discussed. More detailed work will be done on this budget by the committee’s Human Resources Division.
Indigent burials were addressed by the Senate Human Services Committee in SB2139. Testimony of support for this funeral director requested bill was presented by zones and counties, but strong recommendations were made to make it more workable for the zones. NDACo was asked to chair a working committee of zones, DHS and the funeral directors to bring back suggested amendments.
HB1127 granting counties the authority to replace flooded bridges without bidding passed the House 91-0. The bill also increases the bid threshold to $200,000 for bridges and highways.
A bill to provide an income tax exemption on retired law enforcement benefits (SB2147) passed unanimously in the Senate.
The state requirement that counties levy 10 mills in order to be eligible for GPT revenues would be repealed by passage of SB2162. The Senate passed the bill on a 46-0 vote.
County Auditors testified in opposition to HB 1245 that would make dramatic changes to tax statements to include a pie chart that indicates the percentage of taxation for each taxing entity. While Auditors agree with the intent of the bill, to increase transparency and understanding of property taxes, their opposition is based on the technical impacts this would have on counties in formatting and software changes that would be required in order for a county to make the changes to the tax statement.
Local public health unit administrator Theresa Will, City-County Health District, testified in support of SB 2153 which formalizes minimum core requirements for the units. The Senate passed the bill this week as well.
Fargo Rep. Jim Kasper introduced his own version of the NDPERS pension closure bill that differs from the interim bill in that the local share of unfunded liability would be paid by political subdivisions – it is HB1486.
In the notes above it references SB2144 related to law enforcement. When I pull up the bill it has to do with bond issues. Is that the correct number?
Hi Jim, I was digging around in the blog and saw your question. I’m not sure if anyone got back to you, but the bill number should be 2147. I’ve updated it on the blog.