ND lawmakers cover redistricting, disaster, health, nickname issuesGreetings from your District 36 senator. The 2011 legislative special session was completed last week. It was a fast and furious session. We deliberated four basic items. They are as follows:
By: By George Nodland, The Dickinson Press
Greetings from your District 36 senator. The 2011 legislative special session was completed last week. It was a fast and furious session. We deliberated four basic items. They are as follows:
- SB2370: This was a bill to repeal the bill we passed in the last session requiring the Sioux nickname to be used by the University of North Dakota. There was heated discussion in both chambers on this issue, but the bill passed and was signed by the governor. The nickname will not be used by the university anymore. Also, there will be a three-year moratorium until a new nickname is chosen.
- HB1473: This is the redistricting bill that is required of all states after a new census is taken every 10 years. The committee met many times since the last session taking comments from various communities. They also had many hours of conference committee meetings during the special session. It is not a perfect bill, but it does meet the law of one-man, one-vote with each district representing 14,310 people (plus or minus 5 percent). The districts remain the same at 47 for the state. The bill passed and was signed by the governor.
- SB2371: This is the disaster relief bill that ended up being the most deliberated bill during the session. The bill started with a few items and ended up with amendments added to cover more areas than the original bill. Total cost of the bill was $158.8 million general fund money. The bill has three sections that covered different items.
The main part of the bill is for flood disaster recovery areas. Some of the items covered in this section are a rebuilder’s loan program ($10 million) to help homeowners rebuild their homes with loans at a much reduced interest rate and generous repayment terms — $30 million for public infrastructure grants; $23 million in transportation grants for road repair for counties and townships in flood disaster areas; $29.5 million for matching federal funds for flooded areas.
The second area covered is for oil and gas producing counties. Some of the items covered in this section are $30 million more in the Impact Grant program, with the priority for emergency services; $5 million for impact grants for new counties impacted by oil development; $11 million for tax credits for affordable housing to ease the housing shortage; $50 million from the Water Recourses Trust Fund for water projects needed, with flood areas a priority.
The last area covered is funding for four more highway patrolman for western North Dakota. This is in addition to the nine patrolman who will graduate from training next month.
The Department of Transportation also will be able to borrow up to $200 million from the Bank of North Dakota if needed to do projects next year. They will also be able to do multi-permit trips for the trucking industry to be more efficient and save time and money for the trucking industry and the DOT.
r HB1476: This bill is the Health Exchange Bill that was proposed to create a State Health Exchange to fill the requirement for the Federal Health Care Bill being challenged in the court system. The House killed the bill on a vote of 34-60. Therefore, this bill will not become a law in North Dakota.
I am proud of the North Dakota Legislature’s actions during this special session. We accomplished much in a short time that benefited many people in our state. We are a great state and we can get things done when needed.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Please contact me with your thoughts and concerns.
Nodland is the District 36 senator, Dickinson. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.