Legislature Expected to Wrap Up in Next Week

Monday is day 70 for the North Dakota Legislature. By law, they are limited to 80 days. Lawmakers stayed to work Saturday in conference committees to gain some momentum. Talk in the hallways is that leaders are striving to wrap up bills late this week or next. This week will be all about conference committees that are meeting to work out differences in versions passed between the House and Senate and floor sessions.

There are still many bills of county interest that continue to be worked on including:

HB 1012 – ND DOT Budget – Includes County Road Funding

HB 1379 – Legacy Fund Earnings – Funding Stream for County Roads

HB 1015 – OMB Bill – Guardianship Funding

HB 1158 – Property Tax Relief Package

SB 2012 – Department of Health & Human Services Budget – Includes Zone Equity

SB 2107 – Attorney General’s Enhanced Penalties

Looking back on the week, both the House and Senate put in the hours in floor session, holding multiple floor sessions a day and working into the evening. Of key importance, the Senate acted on and approved HB 1040, the NDPERS retirement bill that proposes to close the defined benefit program to NEW EMPLOYEES and have them join a defined contribution plan. The Senate did amend HB 1040, but we anticipate that the House will concur with those changes and it will be voted on for final approval. SB 2239, which proposes to keep NDPERS open as a defined benefit plan is slated to be voted on in the house and has a Do Not Pass Recommendation. This could happen as early as Monday morning.

The Governor signed HB 1307 “Back the Blue” legislation. This bill will provide $3.5 million to local law enforcement agencies for recruitment and retention bonuses. $750,000 of the $3.5 million is dedicated to agencies employing ten or fewer employees. The grant dollars will be distributed to cities and counties based on the number of licensed peace officers and correctional officers in their agency. During the news conference Governor Burgum said, “Our local law enforcement agencies work hard to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe, and they do that with our full support. House Bill 1307 demonstrates that ‘Back the Blue’ isn’t just a slogan in North Dakota. It’s actually the respect that we have and a way of life for North Dakotans.” Burgum also signed SB 2147 which exempts law enforcement retirement pay from income tax.

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