Hearing Schedule for April 3-7th
There are few bills remaining to be heard in the policy committees. The focus is now on the Appropriations committees and those policy issues that require House-Senate conference committees. Unfortunately, as the conference committee schedule is updated hourly throughout the week, as conferees become available, it isn’t possible to include in our report which ones will be meeting when, however, that information is posted to the Legislative website as soon as it is decided.
Regarding NDPERS, you will recall that the Sen. State & Local Gov. Committee voted last week for a Do Not Pass recommendation on HB1040 (DB plan closure) – well, it was returned to that committee, reconsidered, amendments proposed and rejected, and then neither a Do Pass or Do Not Pass could garner 4 (of 6) votes, so it is now on the Senate floor Without Committee Consideration – rumor is that it will be debated Monday. Meanwhile, SB2239 (keep the DB plan open) remains in the House Gov. & Vets Committee as the chairman said they wouldn’t discuss that one until next Thursday, once the Senate has taken a crack at HB1040. A chess game in process.
After an hour and 9 minutes of debate, the House passed SB2362 (53-38) – primary seatbelt enforcement. Although this has passed the Senate in the last several sessions, it has never before passed the House. While an attempt to reconsider is possible (tomorrow only), that seems somewhat unlikely. The Governor has indicated in the past that he will sign this bill.
The Senate approved HB 1245, which requires political subs to communicate in dollars instead of mills when referencing budgets and taxes. It also requires counties to report ending fund balances to the State Auditor each year, and requires an interim study of property tax transparency. This bill started out as being proposed as a major revamp to the property tax statement but following input from county auditors, the bill was amended heavily. The bill passed the Senate unanimously. HB1119 which also included language to communicate in terms of dollars vs mills and has a Do Not Pass recommendation because the language is in HB 1245.
The bill to provide local funding for snow removal, SB2183, was passed a second time in the Senate in the form of the House, so it is now on its way to the Governor. This includes $20 million for snow removal grants to counties, townships, cities and tribal governments. The bill divides the snow emergency grants into two time periods, up to $15 million is available for the early season snow emergency (October – December) and any remaining funds are available for the full season. Political subs can apply for reimbursement of up to 60% of the snow removal costs incurred which exceeded 150% of the average snow removal costs. The average is using data from the four lowest cost years during the years 2017 through 2021. SB 2183 is an emergency measure which means the funds will be available immediately following the Governor’s signature.
SB2251, the bill requiring written permission to survey land that may be involved in eminent domain was defeated in the House on a 46-46 vote, (Needs 48). An attempt was made to bring the bill back the next day, but again came up short. Interestingly, even SB2313 that was amended to a study of eminent domain compensation was defeated (40-51) in the House.
Several Sheriffs came to the capitol to show their support for HB 1307. The Senate Appropriations sub committee heard the bill Monday. The committee passed out the bill with a Do Pass Recommendation but with a reduced appropriation of $3.5 million from the $5 million initially proposed. The bill will provide a grant directly to county and city law enforcement agencies for hiring and retention bonuses. It has been expanded to also include corrections officers.
Last week we reported that SCR4019, a ballot measure to eliminate the 1-mill property tax for the medical school had passed both Houses, well it went back to the House for reconsideration and failed – so that won’t be on the ballot after all.
And in another course reversal – SB2124 addressing state meal reimbursement, had an interesting week. The bill was soundly defeated by the House (31-59) on Wednesday, but it came back and was passed 59-32 on Thursday. As the House amended the bill, it raises the daily total from $35 to $45. This is $3 more than the Senate version, so it goes back for their consideration.
Related to local public health, the Senate defeated HB 1358 to add a seat on the Environmental Review Advisory Council. SB 2253, dealing with onsite septic systems, received a do not pass from the House Industry Business and Labor committee.
The Senate passed out their tax relief proposal through HB 1158. This bill as initially introduced was solely an income tax relief package. The Senate Finance and Tax Committee expanded it to include additional property tax relief and expanded the homestead tax credit. The total tax relief package is $560 million. The House continues to hold numerous Senate bills, It is anticipated they may use one of those to use as a vehicle to move their tax policy forward.