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Senator David S. Rust: Legislative Notes

Article by Senator David S. Rust,

I’m always amazed which bills generate attention from the public and media.  I’ll touch on a couple.  The eighty miles per hour speed limit on interstate roads only got a “Do Pass” recommendation from Senate Transportation.  I did vote in favor of it.  The bill now goes to Senate Appropriations to deal with the cost of speed signs and then to the entire Senate for passage or defeat.

The daylight savings and central time bill is still in committee.  Most comments we’ve received through e-mails, etc. favor staying on daylight savings time.  At issue are the problems cities along the Red River would face with North Dakota on standard time and Minnesota on daylight time.  Bismarck and Mandan faced similar time zone issues until Mandan voted in 1960 by nearly a two to one margin to go on central time.

The decision to place the entire state on central time is more of a mix. Those doing business across the state favor it, while those on mountain time feel it is a local decision.  I will vote against the bill as the law currently provides a means for cities and counties to let the voters decide that issue.  I’m for leaving well enough alone as you solve one set of problems only to create an entirely new set for another portion of the state.

There are a number of “gun bills” in the House.  The one generating the most enthusiasm deals with “constitutional carry.”  That bill would make it legal for people in North Dakota who are at least 21 years old to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, unless otherwise prohibited by law. The other would allow school boards to possibly designate individuals to conceal carry in school. This permission would mostly be used in schools of small towns and remote areas that are miles away from law enforcement.   I’ll discuss those more as they come over to the Senate—if they pass.

Probably the most significant bill the Senate Education Committee is working on is SB 2272.  This is a “big idea” bill that deals with the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund, after the passage of Measure 2 in the November election.

The bill would roll current and past school construction funds, along with additional dollars from the above fund, into a School Construction Assistance Revolving Loan Fund for loans up to $10 million over a 20 year period of time at less than or equal to 2% interest.  Projects would require voter, and DPI, approval with the loans administered by the Bank of ND.  This would be a perpetual fund;  eventually the interest payments would fund future loans.

Utilization by schools will result in direct property tax relief as interest rates will be lower when repaying school construction bonds.

SB 2272 would also set up a fund for “unanticipated” construction or replacement and for emergency repair.  Administered by the Land Board, a school board could borrow, without voter approval, up to $1 million for up to 20 years at an interest rate of less than or equal to 2%.

In addition, SB 2272 includes (for 2017-19) $2.477 million for Career and Tech Ed, $10 million for Rapid Enrollment Grants, and $1 million for English Language Learners.  CTE would also be added to allotment exemptions, but paid out of the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund.

SB 2180 would have mandated that the state and the schools of the state refuse federal funds.  Most of those dollars pay for Title services, special education costs, and hot lunch programs–to name a few.  For the record, schools already have the option of not taking federal dollars.  Two of the 179 schools in ND don’t;  they have a combined student enrollment of 28 students. If schools did not take any federal money, they still would have to abide by the federal mandates—such as Civil Rights, disabilities act, and a host of others.  In other words, no money, but nearly all of the mandates.  The entire Senate defeated the bill on a 3 – 43 vote.

If anyone is interested in observing the legislative process, I can arrange for you to sit with me on the floor of the Senate.  I also appreciate contacts from District 2 residents, even though one person may be passionate about having me vote “no” on a bill while another feels just as passionate about having me vote “yes.”

The best way to contact me is by e-mail at drust@nd.gov.

This article was written by District 2 Senator David S. Rust. Rust served in the House from 2009-2014, he is currently serving in the Senate.. Rust serves as vice-chairman of the Education Committee, he also serves on the Transportation Committee.

– Ian Grande is the Editor of the Stanley Gazette. If you have any comments or concerns please email StanleyGazette@gmail.com

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