Click to view Schedule for Week of March 20-24th

Lots of attention to property tax issues during this past week while the Appropriations Committee

HB1247, a mandatory study of exempting off-farm grain and potato storage, was passed by the Senate in the same form as the House and will be studied during the interim. However, SB2279 to implement this exemption was just heard in House Agriculture (not Finance &Tax) this Thursday and the sponsor proposed a hog-house amendment that clarifies but also expands the exemption to commercial storage not owned by a farmer but rented to a farmer. City and county officials urged studying rather than implementation.   A broader study of restructuring the taxation of residential and commercial property that was HB1248 was defeated by the Senate.

The requirement for oil counties to levy 10 mills to get GPT revenues will be repealed with the Governor’s signature on SB2162 as all but 7 House members  agreed with the Senate.

Political Subdivisions raised concerns with SB 2367 in House Finance and Tax which increases the state’s share of the oil and gas tax revenues by $170 million. Counties, cities, townships and airports all urged the committee to look at the bucket formula and help bring funding earlier to the Prairie Dog Buckets. The committee didn’t take action on the bill this week but committee members have indicated they are looking at possible amendments. Meanwhile, the same committee heard SB 2329 which sought to give a percentage of the motor vehicle excise tax to townships and counties. The committee gave the bill a Do Not Pass recommendation.

The Senate adopted SCR 4019 on a vote of 29-18 to put a Constitutional change on the ballot that would  eliminate the 1-mill property tax levy for the UND Medical School.  After a fairly spirited debate, the Constitutional amendment to prohibit all property taxes (HCR3024) was voted down quite soundly – 18 to 75 – with about the same support that Measure #2 received on the ballot in 2012.

An auditor-supported measure, SB 2292 was passed by the House. This addresses election observers along with offenses for causing a disturbance at a polling location,

In a bit of surprise, the House, with encouragement from counties and cities, overturned a Do Not Pass recommendation on SB2370 to expand local gov authority for joint purchasing. The bill passed in the House (75-28) in same form as in the Senate, so this one is also now up to the Governor. 

The House adopted amendments to SB2183 creating “snow removal grants.”  The amendments lower the total available from $25M to $20 million, but make the eligibility a bit easier by changing the threshold to 150% of the average snow removal cost for the four lowest of the last five years. This bill was on Thursday’s floor calendar with a Do Pass recommendation, but due to the House’s Memorial Service, it was not reached – maybe Friday. 

Tobacco was the topic in the Senate on Wednesday with mixed results for Public Health.  HB1229 to allow “cigar bars” was narrowly passed (1 vote) in the Senate, so that is now up to the Governor (unless it comes back).  On the other hand, HB1412 to regulate e-cigarettes like other tobacco products was passed 42-12. In other health news, SB2153, to establish in law the core functions of public health – and supported by Local Public Health – was given a Do Pass recommendation. Student loan repayment for public health professionals was added in to SB2344 on the Senate side but was removed in House.

SB2381, requested by the Recorders regarding the deposit of a will, was amended in the House but has not yet been voted on for final passage. Once passed, it will need to go back to the Senate for concurrence.

The House approved SB 2147 which will allow for law enforcement retirement income to be exempt if they have served 20 years. The House also approved a death benefit for the children of correctional officers killed in the line of duty; the children will receive free college education.

And……..If the Governor agrees with 30 Senators and 72 Representatives, the Curling will be the North Dakota State Sport.

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