Legislative Update Week 14
Posted 4/07/17 (Fri)
Week 14 of the Legislative Session
We’ll call this week: Shenanigans in House Appropriations!
There are three stark examples of how the House Appropriations made drastic and contentious changes in “must pass” bills.
In the University System funding bill 2003, an amendment was slipped in to defund a nursing school run by NDSU in Bismarck. Students RALLIED and put pressure on the committee to remove the amendment. Discussions ensued and word seems to indicate success in getting it removed. This is still in progress.
The Commerce Department funding bill 2018 is slyly hitting homeless grants. The committee claims they are simply moving it from a line item to a “discretionary” line item. Therefore, continuation of those grants is dependent on priorities of the director of Commerce. The process is a big question here – who decides and what are some of the competing interests for those limited discretionary fund? In addition to concerns about homeless grants, child care facilities grants were completely zeroed out in that budget. While the state continues to struggle with the basic infrastructure of child care, the legislature is cutting child care. The House did pass the bill and surely it will go to conference committee. The changes are contentious and the Senate is sure to push back.
Then, in a hit against workers, the House Appropriations removed employee profit-sharing from 2014, the Industrial Commission budget which includes the State Mill and Elevator. Profit-sharing has traditionally served as about 13% of compensation for the employees of the Mill an Elevator.
The members of the Appropriations committees sure are setting the stage for many conference committees.
In all cases, you may be interested in the floor debates on a few bills:
Department of Commerce bill with many issues of concern, 2018.
Industrial Commission with the Mill and Elevator profit-sharing debate, 2014
Also worth watching is the debate where some Senators attempted to restore funds that were cut from HB 1040. This bill came from the Interim Human Services Committee and originally recommended $28 million in funding for unmet behavioral health needs. The Appropriations committee cut that down to $200,000. The amendments, unfortunately, failed.
For good measure, I’m adding the video on the Department of Transportation budget debate, 2012. The bill had a close vote in the House due to many disagreements.
Bills we were supporting that did pass this week:
1369, the update to voting identification laws passed the Senate by a vote of 37-10. The House now considers the Senate amendment before final passage.
2191, funding for SANE nurses passed the House with only 2 dissenting votes and unanimously in the Senate. Now it goes to the Governor for a signature.
2203, funding for Human Trafficking services, also passed the House, but the Senate did not concur on the funding change, so the bill goes to conference committee.
Once again, I want to remind you of opportunities on the Governor’s Boards and Commissions. There are a variety of Governor’s Boards and Commissions that have open slots in 2017. If you know of an individual that would be an exceptional representative to serve on a Board or Commission of Governor Doug Burgum, please encourage them to apply online - Application Form. Vacancies and upcoming term end dates can be viewed at Governor's Boards & Commissions. Currently we are compiling the lists as to how many women serve on each board and the list of vacancies to make it easier for you to find the opportunities. We anticipate getting that to you all next week.