The 62nd Legislative Assembly of North Dakota is now at cross-over. This may, or may not, mean our work is half way completed. It simply means all the House bills have had a hearing, committee action resulting in a recommendation, and action taken by the full assembly. The same is true in the Senate. Each chamber now forwards the approved bills to the other chamber.
With that said, the House will begin hearings on Senate bills (and the Senate on House bills) on Wednesday, March 2. The process is the same, hearings, committee action that results in a recommendation, and action taken by the full assembly. The check and balance system continues. Conference committees will be formed should there be some discrepancies between the two chambers on any, all bills involved.
Representative Al Carlson, House Majority Leader, in his weekly message, included the following statements. 1) Public Employees were funded at the Governor's recommended level of 3% - 3%. 2) The line was held on new FTE's. 3) $341,000,000 in property tax relief was passed. 4) Personal income tax was lowered by $100 million and corporate income tax by $50 million. 5) The House supported the governor's level of spending on oil impacted area's infrastructure. And 6) we moved some of the Permanent Oil Trust Fund to the general fund, increasing our Budget Stabilization Fund.
Some, or all of the above, can be adjusted by the Senate. And of course the House can adjust the Senate bills. Let's just hope that at the end of the session, the House and Senate can agree on a balanced, sustainable budget for North Dakota. When I checked the other day there were 262 Senate Bills and Concurrent Resolutions in the House for consideration; and 258 House Bills and Concurrent Resolutions in the Senate for consideration.
"Big items" yet to be heard and agreed on by both chambers include: (the big question being how many dollars of assistance can/should the state provide) in the area of: the Fargo flood diversion project; the Devils Lake flooding situation; and the infrastructure throughout the state (especially in the oil counties). Of course the list is longer, and includes other items. Will any of these be one-time expenditures, or continual?
Thanks to all who attended the open forum on Saturday, Feb. 19. Senator Gary A. Lee and Representative Wes Belter indicated that it was time well spent, lots of questions and input. Again I apology for not being there, but I did attend the North Dakota Republican Party State Meeting in Bismarck that date; serving as proxy for our district chair.
We look forward to hearing from you - contact us by e-mail: Senator Gary A. Lee: firstname.lastname@example.org; Representative Wes Belter: email@example.com; and Vonnie Pietsch: firstname.lastname@example.org; or leave a message for us at 1-888-NDLegis (635-3447) or TTY (1-800-366-6888) to reach a relay operator for hearing-impaired persons.