Written by, Representative Donald Longmuir (District 2)
This past week has been busy. The committees I serve on, Education and Political Subdivisions, have completed their work. I served on an education conference committee for HB 1037 which dealt with schools using the use North Dakota eTranscript program for the handling of student transcripts. Our committee, after discussion, agreed with the Senate’s version of the bill and the House accepted our conference committee report. A second conference committee I served on was a political subdivision committee regarding SB 2316 dealing with technical language corrections of the code for the State Fire Marshal’s office. After discussion, the Senate agreed to our amendments and passed the bill as amended by the House.
The big news this week was the passing of SB 2344, the medical marijuana bill. Robin Weisz, Chairman of the House Human Services Committee and the entire Human Services Committee, which includes District 2 Representative Bert Anderson, deserve our gratitude for developing a bill which meets the desire of the voters and protects the citizens of North Dakota. They spent many hours listening to testimony, working with the State Health Department and discussing the issue to develop the best bill possible. Is it perfect or is everyone satisfied, no, but it is the best bill which can be developed to meet the legal requirements, meet the need for medical marijuana and protect the health and safety of the citizens of North Dakota.
SB 2206 was passed by the House this week. This bill outlines how the State will take over the funding of the County Social Service program. After numerous House committee meetings, the bill was brought to the floor for action. There was over an hour of debate regarding the terms of the bill. The cost of the program will have a direct effect on the twelve percent property tax buy down the legislature has provided in the past. I do not see how the State will be able to take over the county social service programs and still provide property tax relief. Taking over the county social service program should result in a lowering of the mills which were formerly used to fund the program.
SB 2134, the bill dealing with the mineral rights for lands inundated by Pick Sloan Missouri Basin project dams, is still in conference committee. I have sat in on some of the conference committee meetings and the next one is scheduled for Monday. Everyone understands the minerals need to be returned to their proper owners but it needs to be done in the proper manner. Hopefully this bill will be coming out of committee for final action on the floor.
HB 1020 the State Water Commission budget is still in conference committee. I have attended some of the conference committee meetings and one issue which has been removed from the bill is the royalty assessment on water sold for industrial purposes. The original bill was going to charge a royalty to water sellers for the water of the State. This royalty was then going to be used to reduce the debt of the Western Area Water Supply Authority. I think the removal of this provision is only fair.
SB2003, the budget for higher education hit the floor Friday afternoon. This is a major budget item and was discussed for over an hour. Representative Mark Sanford, District 17, did an excellent job presenting the bill and the financial ramifications of the budget. Representatives from communities that have institutions of higher education presented their arguments for increasing funding to their institution which were very enlightening and persuasive but the fact is there is not the funding available which has been available in past years. My hope is the institutions will take a serious look at their administrative level of management and eliminate unnecessary administrative positions before the look at eliminating programs or personnel that actually deal with the students on a daily basis.
I would like to thank Seth Wisthoff and the students from Powers Lake for joining us in the legislature. It is exciting to see young people observing their government in action. These are the future leaders of our communities, State and federal government.
Leadership is pushing to bring this legislative session to an end and save a few days to allow the legislature the opportunity to meet to address possible future issues which could include the national health program, changing State financial conditions or other needs. There are approximately 60 conference committee reports that need to have floor action.
If you have any questions regarding any legislation or the legislative process contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, Representative Bert Anderson at email@example.com or Senator David Rust at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Donald W. Longmuir is a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives. Longmuir 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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