This past week marked the end of the seventh full week of the legislative session. The Senate cruised to the crossover on Wednesday mid- morning, but the House, which still had roughly 100 more bills to consider struggled to meet the crossover with long floor sessions finally finishing in the late afternoon.
Bowman County Economic Development Director
At the crossover the base level revenue forecast has been reduced to $4,041,534,609, a decrease of $196,541,377 from the starting estimate at the beginning of the session. Meanwhile the legislature has appropriated spending measures totaling $4,923,958,700, creating a deficit of $882,424,091. While budget deficits aren’t uncommon at this point, it would appear significant spending reductions will be necessary during the second half of the session.
A quick review of some of the significant bills we passed during the first half:
SB2268 is a critical bill as it allows the Public Finance Agency to receive earnings from the Legacy Fund and to loan money to the Department of Transportation for the construction or repair of highways located in areas designated as Corridors of Commerce. It passed the Senate by a large margin.
HB1066 (Prairie Dog Bill) and its companion bill SB2275 (Prairie Dog III) both passed by large margins. HB1066 appropriates $230 million to oil producing counties and hub cities and $20 million to an Airport Infrastructure Fund. SB2275 allocates $450 million from Legacy Fund earnings to create a revolving loan fund to be used by political subdivisions for critical infrastructure projects.
SB2312 is a bill which changes the oil tax revenue distribution with the Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara nation. While the measure favors the MHA nation and will cost the state $33 million, the agreement is considered historic as it could incentivize drilling on tribal lands and possibly lead to other possible agreements with the tribe.
HB1530 is a bill which will allow the tax commissioner under certain circumstances to reduce corporate and personal income tax rates. The estimated cost is $150 million, with the lost revenue to be replaced with earnings from the Legacy Fund.
SB2315 is a bill which originally would have eliminated posting requirements by landowners. The bill became contentious and was eventually amended. As amended all private land will be listed in a statewide data base with three categories -i.e., property which is open to hunting, property which is open to hunting with permission from the landowner or operator, and property which is closed to hunters. Posting your land takes precedence over the database and if you do neither, your land is listed as available for hunting.
HB1286, is a bill which relates to civil asset forfeiture and to forfeiture proceedings after seizure. The bill passed by a 57-33 vote, was reconsidered, and the motion to reconsider was defeated.
There were several interesting bills which were defeated including the following:
HB1486 is the infamous time change bill which would have placed the entire state on Central Standard Time. This bill seems to appear almost every session. We were opposed to it and it failed again by a large margin, 11-81.
HB 1537, the Red Flag bill, was a bill which would have allowed law enforcement officers or family members to seize a firearm from someone deemed to be a risk to himself or others. There were second amendment concerns which were raised, and the bill was defeated.
HB1449 and SB2336 were two bills which would have raised the oil production tax from 5% to 6.5%. These bills were introduced by Democrats and quickly became political during hearings. Both were defeated by large margins.
The Legislature will now take a four-work day recess, returning on Wednesday, February 27, for the second half of the session.
If you have an interest in any specific legislation, we invite you to visit the Legislative Council website at legis.nd.gov. As always, we enjoy your comments and questions and you can contact us as follows: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.