Written by, Representative Donald Longmuir (District 2)
It has been another busy week in the legislature. All committees are working hard to process all their bills out to allow for floor votes to make the cross over. You can follow any bill at www.leg.nd.gov to see the status or disposition of the bills. The Education Committee has cleared out all of our bills and are waiting on Senate bills. The Political Subdivision Committee has cleared out all but two bills and we will probably process those out of the committee on Thursday.
This past week saw a number of bills dealing with instances where peaceful demonstrations turn into violent activities. The first amendment right for freedom of expression is protected in the Constitution but criminal activity conducted during non-peaceful demonstrations needed to be addressed. HB 1293 is a bill that allows for persons who suffer economic damages due to criminal behavior during a demonstration a way to recoup their losses. There were a number of persons during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests that lost cattle, hay and other personal property. HB 1304 deals with prohibiting the wearing masks, hoods and face coverings during the commission of a criminal offense. A number of protestors were wearing masks and hoods during the demonstrations. This was extremely trying for people driving in the area when people with masks and hoods would approach their vehicles. HB 1426 dealt with the rating of criminal offenses committed during a riot. This bill would increase the penalties allowed for these infractions.
HB 1432 was a bill introduced to remove any reference to Common Core from the North Dakota Education Standards. However, this bill would also restrict the authority of the State Superintendent in setting education standards and require the State to adopt the 2008-2009 education standards from the State of Massachusetts. Adopting old standards that were prepared by people not from North Dakota seemed like an odd way to address North Dakota education concerns. The latest standards presented by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction were developed by North Dakota teachers for North Dakota students. North Dakota is not following the common core standards. There may be some similarities to former common core standards but it is because the standards are good standards and may have been part of the standards prior to common core becoming part of the North Dakota education standards. If there are specific concerns with a particular education standard, we need to take our concerns to our local school board and/or the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.
Speaking of education and its funding the House passed HB 1423 which calls for a study of how elementary and secondary education is funded. By reviewing the complete funding formula, there may be ways to improve funding to our K-12 schools and make it equitable for all students.
On Monday the House will be acting upon HB1368. This is a bill I introduced on behalf of Mountrail County to provide a method for a county to appeal a decision from the State Board of Equalization to district court. Under the present law a tax payer has the ability to appeal a County Tax Equalization to the State Board of Equalization but there is no appeal process for the County. In 2009 Mountrail County retained the services of Pickett & Co. Inc., a nationally renowned company with expertise in appraising petroleum & mineral producing properties, industrial plants and chemical complexes, public utilities, railroads, pipelines & manufacturing facilities for ad valorem taxation properties throughout the country. An industrial taxpayer contested the appraisal prepared by Pickett & Co to the State Board of Equalization for review. The State Board of Equalization ruled in favor of the taxpayer based on old court precedent and there was no appeal process for the County. This resulted in the County having to spread the levy of $70,000 of uncollected taxes from the industrial taxpayer over the farmers, ranchers, small businesses and homeowners of the County. This doesn’t seem fair. This bill came out of committee with a 9 to 5 Do Not Pass recommendation. I will be attempting to persuade the House to override the committee’s decision and level the field for all taxpayers.
This coming week will be busy clearing house bills to make cross over. If you have any questions or concerns regarding legislation do not hesitate to contact Senator Rust(firstname.lastname@example.org), Representative Anderson (email@example.com) or Representative Longmuir (firstname.lastname@example.org).
*Donald W. Longmuir is a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives. Donald Represents District 2, he currently serves on the Education and Political Subdivision Committees.