Written by, Representative Donald Longmuir (District 2)
As Bert mentioned in last week’s article the legislature had reached the cross over point. All the bills passed in the House have now crossed over to the Senate and all bills passed in the Senate have crossed over to the House. The legislature came back into session on Wednesday. Committees have been busy conducting hearings on the Senate bills now on the House side. Our education committee on Wednesday heard four bills relating to graduation requirements, school district employee performance reviews, certification for teaching dual credit courses and prohibiting participation in extracurricular activities by students who have committed a criminal offense.
Thursday our political subdivisions committee heard four bills relating to state radio fee system, definition of public contracts, appointment of housing authority members to multi-county housing authorities and the designation of Memorial Hall in the State Capitol. Secretary of State Al Jager presented several interesting facts and figures regarding the original intent of the capitol building committee. On Friday the political subdivision committee heard three bills dealing with notification of the report of death to the next of kin, qualifications for land surveyors & interns, and the makeup of the advisory board for the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences. The testimony on Senate Bill 2264 regarding the notification of the report of death to the next of kin was heart wrenching. It is unbelievable how inconsiderate some organizations are when dealing with the death of what they consider a prominent person.
This week will be a busy week in all committees conducting hearings on the Senate bills. I would encourage you if have a bill that passed the House or Senate that you stay on top of it. Amendments may be added to bills that have crossed over that may change the tone of the bill completely.
Thursday will be an important day here at the legislature as the most recent financial forecast from the Office of Management and Budget will be presented. Oil prices have not been as high as forecasted last time and sales tax collections are way down. The House majority leader, Al Carlson, and the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Jeff Delzer, have been following this situation closely. Based on experience, they have been taking the financial forecasts with a grain of salt. The leadership has been working with numbers which more closely follow what has been happening. Once this financial forecast is received there will be some difficult decisions which will need to be made regarding the allocation of funds. In the past number of sessions, the legislature has had a surplus of funds to work with which allowed several projects and programs to be completed. That is not now the case. Most budgets have already experienced cuts but there may need to be more cuts to the budgets to balance the budget. It is not to say they are not worthwhile programs or projects but we as a State must live within our means. Unlike the federal government, we are required to have a balanced budget. It’s not all gloom and doom, the State will maintain all essential services but there won’t be room for a lot of the extras we were able to have in the past. We will keep you posted.
We would like to thank the Williston Regional Economic Development group for sponsoring the legislative forums conducted this past Saturday in Crosby and Tioga. Special thanks to KayCee Lindsey, Divide County Jobs Development Director, for conducting the one in Crosby and Dennis Lindahl, Tioga Economic Development Director, for the one in Tioga. We were pleased with the turn out and want to thank everyone for taking part in the forums. The discussions, ideas and thoughts presented at these forums help us to be better legislators by being able to hear what our constituents are thinking. Open communications are essential for good legislation.
*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.
*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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- Feel free to email Ian with any comments or concerns (StanleyGazette@gmail.com)