Article by, Jordan Kannianen – District 4 Senator
Hello from Belden, as I have a few extra days at home during our 5-day crossover break. Crossover is the deadline for all bills to be through the chamber of their origination and cross over to the other chamber (those that pass).
On the Senate side, we were all caught up on Senate bills and already voted on some House bills as well before crossover. Even some more veteran Senators had never experienced that before. Depending on some details in the second-half, we should hit the goal of ending in 70 days in order to save 10 days for unforeseen circumstances.
SB 2298 deals with the collection of sales tax by out-of-state retailers. Twenty-five years ago the Supreme Court ruled that it was an “undue burden” for online and other off-site retailers to have to collect and remit sales tax for so many jurisdictions. Now, however, cheap software can do it for them automatically, allowing the “undue burden” to disappear. The issue is that our local retailers – the ones who live among us, donate to the community, pay property taxes, etc. – are at a disadvantage to out-of-state retailers that don’t have to collect sales tax. This bill would bring equity across the board. Some view it as a tax increase, but all this bill does is shift the burden of collection and remittance from the consumer (who is supposed to pay sales tax to the ND Tax Dept. on any online purchase that doesn’t collect it) to the business. SB 2298 passed the Senate 44-1.
SB 2024 effectively ended BreatheND, the tobacco prevention and control program created with money from the tobacco settlement trust fund. At the current rate of expenses, the money will run out in four years, and with some of the salaries in the BreatheND department being the highest of their class out of all state employees, we think the same work can be accomplished for less money by the Health Department. Smoking rates had dropped nearly in half during the several years previous to the creation of BreatheND, so it’s impossible to say how much effect BreatheND has had on the current rate of decrease. Now, both prevention and cessation programs will be under the same umbrella.
SB 2327 creates a new agency, the Department of Environmental Quality, which would regulate all oil, gas, coal, wind, and other energy production. The reasoning for removing the regulation of energy industries from the Health Department is that it’s believed greater efficiency and results can be achieved by having a department head whose career knowledge is in the energy field versus one who’s a medical doctor (a pediatrician currently heads up the Health Dept.). I voted in favor, and it passed the Senate 27-17.
The land posting bill, SB 2225, which was amended into a pilot project program, failed in the Senate 17-28.
SB 2344, which adjusts the measure on medical marijuana (which I explained last week), passed the Senate 40-6. Now we’ll see what the House does with it.
One last thing I’ll mention is the Bank of North Dakota. The tentative plan is to take $140 million from the state bank and place it in the general fund and another $30 million for other special funds in order to balance the budget this biennium. I’ll give more details on those and other numbers after the next budget forecast is released in March.
The Governor’s Prayer Breakfast is March 9th for those interested in attending. The cost is $15/person.
Thank you for your communications and for the honor of serving you!
*Jordan Kannianen is a Senator from District 4. Jordan serves on the Education and Political Subdivisions Committees.
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- Also check out: Local House Republican Representatives Crossover Update
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