By Rep. Alon Weiland
The 63rd Legislature has reached its midpoint, and it is crossover. As reported before, there would be bills that would be emotional and controversial. Three bills that fall into this category were HB 1466, the non-public school issue, HB 1302, the DUI bill, and 1433, Medicaid expansion.
HB 1466 and 1302 were very emotional for several House members, because they involved personal issues. HB 1302 did pass as amended, HB 1466 did not. HB 1433 also passed, but there is a provision in the bill to have a study and review again in two years. Also, there is a provision to notify those that are insured, that if the federal funding is eliminated, the benefits may also go away. In addition HB 1020, the water bill had a provision in it that did some restricting for the dollars to be spent that did not please the Fargo diversion folks, but it will be reviewed in the Senate.
Some really positive bills that came out of the House and headed for the Senate include several that deal with tax reductions, and funding for schools and infrastructure for the state. HB 1319 provides for $595 million in tax relief through a school mill levy reduction. This was a total revision of the school tax funding formula that still provides equity and adequacy. It allows approximately $8,810 for each student in the first year, and $9,092 for each student in the second year of the biennium. HB 1319 provides for general real estate tax relief with $147 million sent directly to the counties. That brings a total of $742 million of tax relief, $250 million more than last biennium. In addition, HB 1233 provides that the State take over foster care and subsidized adoption at a savings to the counties of $20 million.
HB 1277 is a bill that gives income tax and corporate tax reductions to residents and corporations in the state of $503 million which also includes $2.7 million to financial institutions. When you combine the real estate tax relief and the income tax reductions, there is $1.24 billion of total tax relief.
Three real large bills, two budget bills and one other bill to provide infrastructure assistance to the state political subdivisions and others, including oil counties and non-oil counties, were also passed. The transportation budget is a Senate bill, but included here to show estimated assistance. HB1358 and transportation funding together are designed to provide approximately $4.31 billion for infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water lines, and other things. While most of it goes to help oil counties which are growing rapidly, a good amount goes to help non-oil counties, who have problems as well. This is double what was provided in the last biennium.
HB 1012 is the Human Service budget totalling $2.745 billion dollars, of which $1.145 billion is in general fund dollars. The balance is in special and federal funds. The amount of federal funds available to North Dakota has been reduced by $95 million. This funding, known as FMAP, (Federal Medical Assistance Program), has been declining in recent years in direct proportion to how well N.D. has been doing with its economy, and we are down to 50 percent in North Dakota. Some states are still at 70 percent, including Washington D.C. Even so, the budget was increased $204 million, and takes good care of our most vulnerable.
HB 1013 is the DPI (Department of Public Instruction) budget which totals $2.093 billion -- $1.645 in general fund dollars, and the rest in federal and special funds. This provides the dollars for K-12 education, including transportation and other costs.
All of the information in this article is what is currently in those bills. The Senate will now look at these bills and can and will make changes, just as the House will do the same for passed Senate bills. Period two is coming up, followed by period three which are the conference committees. There is still a long way to go.
As always, your District 13 Legislators like to hear from you. You can reach them best by e-mail. Senator Judy Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org, Representative Kim Koppelman, email@example.com, and Representative Alon Wieland, firstname.lastname@example.org.