Hello citizens of District 26!
Several themes have dominated the 67th Legislative Session thus far, including: fiscal uncertainty, emergency management, the funding of infrastructure and separation of powers. Legislators on both sides of the aisle are working very hard to represent their constituents. We have much to accomplish in less than 80 days, a challenge which the North Dakota Legislature has always met.
This next week will mark “Crossover”, the mid-session mark in the North Dakota Legislative Session by which all Senate and House bills must be acted upon. At Crossover, all bills passed on the floor must be sent to the opposite chamber. In other words, starting after March 1, the Senate will begin its work on House bills and the House will take up the bills that the Senate has passed. The final phase, likely in April, will consist of conference committees working out the differences between the Senate and the House on bills which will have been amended. Budgets will also be passed in their final form during this time.
One bill coming to the Senate will be a bonding bill, passed by the House, which has captured much attention. This bill seeks to fund needed infrastructure projects including the Fargo Diversion. Bonding, also known as borrowing money now to be paid back later, is unusual for North Dakota. Funds coming from the earnings of the Legacy Fund will be earmarked for the repayment of these bonds. Theoretically, this bonding will not require an increase in taxes. This scenario assumes that the future needs of the state, for which those earnings could have otherwise been used, will not, in turn, force future tax increases in order to pay for them.
This past week, another bill I sponsored passed on the Senate floor totaling three bills that will move on for further consideration in the House. Not too bad for a freshman senator. Senate Bill 2247 would adjust the amount held in the State Disaster Relief “bucket” back to $20 million from what had been lowered in the past to $15 million. SB 2247 passed the Senate on a 46-0 yes vote.
Although we are staying very busy, feel free to contact me anytime. I am very honored to be able to serve the citizens of District 26 and the State of North Dakota.