Article by, Andi Lefor (Assistant to the Senate Majority Leader)
This week marked a significant point in the progress of the legislative session — the revised revenue forecast numbers were released. These numbers were lower than the assumptions adopted by the legislature in the January forecast: $46 million less for the rest of the 2015-17 biennium, and $103 million less for the upcoming 2017-19 biennium. Despite the lower numbers, the House and the Senate are still committed to funding the state’s priorities and balancing the budget. In addition, the legislature is still committed to do so without adding new taxes and to continue property tax relief — whether that is through a 12% buy-down or state takeover of county social services.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings this week relating to Marsy’s Law, which passed on the ballot last year. Marsy’s Law is intended to enumerate rights for victims of crimes, and the Committee is considering a bill to study the effects of this new law on our other laws and procedures in North Dakota. In addition, the Senate is looking into the victims’ rights cards that Marsy’s Law requires law enforcement to distribute in order to clarify how they can be most effective in our jurisdiction.
The Education Committee held a hearing for a bill that would change the funding formula for elementary and secondary school districts. HB 1324 is intended to ensure that the payments to school districts of varying sizes are more equitable.
The Senate committees completed further work on issues that made headlines earlier in the session. This week, the Senate passed a bill stating that workers’ compensation will not be used for medical marijuana. In addition, the Human Services Committee held a public hearing on the proposed autism insurance mandate, listening to arguments on both sides of the debate in order to discern the best way to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorder get the treatments they need.
*This summary was provided by Andi Lefor. Andi serves as the Assistant to the Senate Majority Leader in the North Dakota Legislature.
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- Grande’s Ramblings: Reaction to Stanley bond vote, A new path forward?, Wild start to Region 8 Tournament.