Crunch time is here for policy committees. All bills containing appropriation requests, or budget increases, must be out of the originating chamber and re-referred to the appropriation committee. Crossover date is Feb. 25.
Every organization needs good leadership to keep its members focused and operating in a timely manner. In my opinion the House of Representatives is no different, and we are fortunate to have Representative Al Carlson our House Majority Leader. He stated in his recent weekly report that "Floor sessions are going well, and we are on pace with the original schedule." He added that "all budgets are being worked on and some targets have been established, (1) keep the over-all-on-going growth of government to 4% per year, (2) reduce our one time spending by approximately $70 million, (3) put together our package of tax reduction on personal and corporate income tax to equal $150 million - $100 million personal and $50 million corporate. Yet to be addressed is our long term plans for property tax relief."
On a personal note I would add that, hopefully, we pass a sustainable budget. There have been, and still are some challenging proposals to consider. Again, I repeat: the state currently has the resources - but can we sustain them in the future? Will we be creating more debt for the next generation?
Recently the House Political Subdivisions Committee had HB 1219 on its hearing schedule. This particular legislation proposed a state insect - the ladybug. But who cares if North Dakota has a state insect? Let me tell you, a group of talented and gifted second grade students do. This proposal was the result of hours of research (which resulted in finding a ladybug native to the state of North Dakota), script writing documenting why they felt the project worthy of consideration; speaking to the committee, presenting a short video and ending the presentation with an original song about the ladybug. What a learning experience for these students. The Political Subdivisions Committee recommended a Do Pass by a vote of 13 yes, 0 no, 1 absent and not voting; the full assembly agreed, by a vote of 88 yes, 6 no. It's now on to the Senate.
Several bills that are of interest and deserve watching are: HB 1195 which relates to the use of a wireless communications devise and demerit points. The Committee recommendation is Do Not Pass by a vote of 8-6-0. HB 1190 relates to distracted driving. The committee recommendation is Do Pass by a vote of 8-6-0. HB 1381 relates to the penalty on a closed road, in a construction zone and in a school zone. SB 2157 relates to the fee and demerit points for entering a closed road due to hazardous conditions. SB 2340 provides an appropriation to the state treasurer to distribute emergency snow removal dollars to counties, cities and townships. This has an appropriation request of $19 million. It appears to be another exciting, full week with the 62nd session of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.
Don't forget; plan to attend the open forum to be held on Saturday, Feb. 19, hosted by 22nd District Republicans from 10 to 11:30 a.m., in the Elementary Library, Central Cass Public School, 802 5th St. N., Casselton. Senator Gary A. Lee and Representative Wes Belter will be in attendance to update you on legislative activity. Representative Vonnie Pietsch has agreed to serve as proxy for David Strand, 22nd District Republicans president at a North Dakota Republican Party State Meeting in Bismarck that date.
We look forward to hearing from you - contact us by e-mail: Senator Gary A. Lee: email@example.com; Representative Wes Belter: firstname.lastname@example.org; and Vonnie Pietsch: email@example.com; or leave a message at 1-888-NDLegis (635-3447) or TTY (1-800-366-6888) to reach a relay operator for hearing-impaired persons.