NDTOA LEGISLATIVE REPORT 5-1-09 Final one for 2009
This is the last legislative report for the 2009 Legislative
Session….. Darleen and I will be packing up the apartment and
office furniture tomorrow and the office in Bismarck will be
closed. The Bismarck phone number will be discontinued as of
Sunday AM 5-3-09.
Our funding bill, SB2012, went through many changes in the last
2 weeks. I had negotiated in good faith and thought we would get
more than we wound up with in the end. I have never had a bill
left hanging till the last few days that went through repeated
conference committee meetings. At any one of these meetings we
could have been left with nothing. The leadership has the power to
give and take away at will. The bill passed with $5.1 million
annual operating figure ($10.2 million for 2 years) and another
$10 million in weather related funding.
Another $43 million has been set aside for
Counties, Cities and Townships to use for emergency snow removal
grants and flood disaster funding. These grants must be applied
for before May 15, 2009.…
Greg Wilz from the Department of Emergency Services was
provided a mailing list of all township officers and has sent
application forms to all officers
explaining the need for your immediate action or
you will lose out on this $43 million program if you do not act
within the May 15th deadline. Directors -- call all of
the county presidents in your district and tell them about this
right now !!!!!!!! Spread the word !!!!!!!!!
This bill passed the House and the Senate by unanimous votes.
Larry and I attended the public signing of SB2012 by the Governor
and Secretary of State in the Great Hall of the Capitol on 5-1-09.
It has the emergency clause on the bill which means the money
should be sent to the townships within a week.
Negotiations with FEMA indicate it may be possible for
townships to get some funding for gravel losses due to snowplows
throwing the gravel off the roads and into the ditches. A
preliminary report indicated that over $44 million worth of gravel
had been lost in the 36 counties that had been declared a snow
disaster county. There is more to come on this effort.
HB1010 is the bill that would have allowed the Insurance
Commissioner to charge a premium on our fidelity insurance per
officer per year. This bill passed by a 45-2 margin in the Senate
and a 87-3 margin in the House of Representatives. We had an
amendment put on the bill so $500,000 was put in the fund to keep
it above the $2 million level so no premiums could be charged to
Our lobbying attempts on city extraterritorial zoning had come
to a halt. SB2027, as introduced by the ACIR, had met with many
amendments which made it unacceptable to both the House and the
Senate. The bill along with its companion bill HB1554 were both in
conference committee and had suffered 3 attempts at amendments to
improve it and all three were voted down in committee action. It
seemed that the only alternative was to kill them all and this
would result in the cities having extraterritorial zoning
authority out 4 miles from the city limits as found in the 1997
legislation. Larry Syverson decided to try to save something out
of the last 2 ˝ years of effort and began negotiations with the
League of Cities. After several hours of negotiation, the
Political Subdivisions Committee met and Larry’s Committee
reported progress had been made but that they needed more time to
work out all the problems. The committee allowed them more time
and the problems were worked out and the warring factions were all
seated on the same side of the room which indicated a compromise
had been reached. The Political Subdivisions Committee unanimously
voted to accept the new amendments suggested by Larry and the
League Of Cities and sent the bill to the Senate where they passed
it by a 45-2 margin and the House passed it by 87-3.
This then concludes another legislative session wherein we
defended the ND Township Officers from many bad bills and passed
many good ones for the benefit of all townships.
This Legislative Session we had embarked on a new funding
proposal as adopted by our membership at the 2008 Annual Meeting.
This proposal was to move away from our standby, the one cent gas
tax, and be part of the Highway Users Fund with the Counties,
Cities, Department of Transportation and others. Here is how it
worked out this biennium. All ND Townships were getting about $5
million per year out of the gas tax fund. We will get about $5.1
million for operating costs this year and $5.1 million next year
and another $10 million for weather related costs this year. We
will be part of a $43 million pot of money available upon request
of a grant for snow removal and flooding costs incurred last
winter. In addition to the all the rest of the funding, it looks
like we may be able to get some special graveling help from FEMA.
This help may be as much as $44 million to replace the gravel that
the snowplows threw off in the ditch this winter as they made
their many trips over our gravel roads to try to keep them
For the next 2 years on a statewide level it looks like normal
operating funding --- $10.2 Million
This years weather related costs directly to townships
---------------------------------- $10 Million
Disaster/emergency snow removal costs and flood disaster
funding --------------- $43 Million
Gravel loss reimbursement potential
------------------------------------------------------ $44 Million
Total two year funding potential $107.2 million
The last $87 million will not just come in the mail. You must
apply for these grants or you will miss out. Efforts to be
included in these were considerable. May 15th is the
NDTOA Executive Secretary/Director of Governmental Affairs
NDTOA Legislative Report 4-20-09 to 4-24-09
This will probably be one of the last legislative reports for the
2009 Legislative Session. The Representatives and Senators are
very busy coming from and going to conference committees.
Our main township funding bill
has traveled a long way down the legislative path and is nearing
the end of the trail. The House Appropriations Committee, on
Thursday afternoon, finally gave
a 21-1 do pass recommendation and sent it to the House of
Representatives for their consideration. This bill has about
$25 million in it for townships this biennium.
We gave up our one cent gas tax which was bringing in about $5
million per year to get a percentage of the Highway Distribution
is passed and signed by the Governor, we will be able to share in
the Highway Distribution Fund to the $10.2 million level per
bi-annual period and get an additional $10 million payment for
weather related costs.
A township may apply to the department of emergency services for
an emergency snow removal grant for reimbursement of 50% of the
costs incurred for the period January 2009 through March 2009 that
exceeds 200% of the average costs incurred for these months in
2004 through 2008.
passed the House of Representatives today 92-0 margin and has been
sent to the Senate Conference Committee for their review of the
changes the House made in the bill. A BIG THANKS goes to
those of you that came here on Transportation Day on 4-15-09 to
talk to your legislators. The speakers who defended
indicated that your presence helped decide the issue.
One of the many conferences I attended this last week was with our
transportation service providers in the office of Francis Ziegler,
Director of the ND DOT. General Dave Sprynczynatyk said he
needed to have a dollar figure on how much gravel was lost due to
snowplowing on all roads in ND. I asked why and he said he
might be able to find some FEMA funds to cover some of the losses.
He was in contact with the FEMA folks and needed the figures right
now. I worked out some quick calculations and told him we had
about $44.5 million Dollars of loss give or take 10%. He said that
was close enough and he would report this to FEMA and we should
know the outcome in a couple of weeks. $44.5 million would
go a long way even on 2/3 of the township roads in 2/3 of our
is the city extraterritorial zoning bill that has been amended
repeatedly since it was introduced. Like an African
Chameleon it was amended twice in a 10 minute time period. The
first amendments came from Senator Cook which were voted down.
Then Representative Kim Koppelman submitted another set of
amendments which suffered the same fate. SB 2027 was sent to the
Senate floor and killed by a 42-2 vote.
HB 1554 is another city extraterritorial zoning bill that I
expect the same fate awaits it on Monday. Their seems to be no
common ground with the city position. They want almost total
control of the 4 mile area around the bigger cities. Grand Forks
is the most problematic area. It seems that killing both of these
bills will result in reversion to the old 1997 law which says 2
miles is enough.
NDTOA Executive Secretary
NDTOA Legislative Report 4-13-09 to 4-17-09
The highlights from Bismarck this week include passage of
SB 2393 (the one million dollar snow emergency bill introduced
Ryan Taylor) and the transportation Meeting held on 4-15-09
that I have been informing you of in the last two Legislative
The North Dakota Emergency Committee met on the Thirteenth of
April to discuss emergency snow removal funding and flooding
control efforts. General Dave Spryncynatyk updated us on snow
removal costs and flood disaster potentials in ND. His information
indicated that we would likely qualify for FEMA assistance at the
25% our share and 75% their share levels at this time. He provided
us with a chart of the affected communities in ND and suggested we
may be approaching the 90% -- 10% level soon.
Over 200 City County and Township Officials met in a joint meeting
to review the Transportation Legislation pending before the
Legislative Assembly. After reports from the Lobbyists
serving these entities and discussing current conditions, all
attendees went with a united front to the House of Representatives
and Senate to talk to their Legislators. They urged passage
of legislation that would adequately fund Transportation’s normal
needs for the next 2 years. These officers sought funding to
cover the winter snow plowing costs and help to cover the
re-graveling and road, culvert and bridge damage from spring
It was great to see so many of you out in The Senate and House of
Representatives talking to your Legislators.
At the conclusion of our joint dinner and debriefing meeting on
the results of your discussions with your legislators, it was
plain to see you made a great difference in Bismarck. Many
legislators changed their minds on the issues due to your
conversations with them. In fact the Legislators are still talking
about the joint efforts made by those of you who had courage
enough to make the long trip to Bismarck to help get adequate
funding for your Town, Township, City and County.
will come to the House of representatives in mid week next week so
those of you that would like to be part of a successful
Legislative effort ……E-mail or Call your Representatives and urge
with the extra 120 million dollars in it (as recommended in the
Governors budget and passed by the Senate).
Legislative Report 4-6-09 to 4-10-09
This last week was a very important week for township law changes.
We have policy on the City Extraterritorial Zoning bills which
calls for a reduction in the area around the city to 1/2 of what
it was in 2005. At the present, 2 bills are alive and
being worked on in Conference Committee:
HB 1554 introduced by Rep.
which was introduced by the ACIR Committee. They have both
passed the House and Senate and will be in Conference Committee
this next week. They both fall short of giving back to the
township resident the right to vote on decisions that affect his
property but they do take steps in the right direction.
Of most importance is the negotiations between North Dakota’s
transportation providers and the leadership of the House of
There have been many conversations and meetings held this week
between legislators and representatives from the Townships,
Counties, Cities, ND DOT, ND Transit Authority and others.
The Senate passed
which had 2.74% of the Highway Users Fund designated for townships
in lieu of our old standby … the one cent gas tax. This
would have brought in $13.6 million to townships for road
maintenance over the next 2 years. This would amount to a
32% funding increase for each township in our state. The
leadership had decided to remove $100 million from the fund and
replace it with Federal Stimulus dollars. Townships are not
eligible to receive Stimulus Funds, so when this occurred, we were
short 2.7% of the $100 million that was taken out. The
Senate realized that this shortage existed and hog housed
HB 1407. And, included the language in
HB 1407 to restore $2.7 Million to township budgets.
HB 1407 has been passed by the Senate Transportation Committee
and the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be in Conference
Committee with another bill
that seeks to fund transportation entities.
HB 1407 and
have been repeatedly amended and we need to have your action.
A meeting will be held in the Brynhild Haugland room in the
State Capitol building on 4-15-09 at 9:00 AM.
Please make an effort to come to Bismarck
and be present at this meeting. We need a
large count of officials there. County Commissioners, City
Commissioners and Township Officers and residents should all come
to show support for the Legislators that have been working to try
to get funding for township road maintenance.
Pass the word around; we need to stand up for ourselves and let
the legislators know that we deserve to have enough funding to
provide safe traveling surfaces for the public. We have not
asked for funding increases since the early 1980’s and inflation
has drastically reduced our purchasing power.
SB 2444 was unanimously passed by both Houses of the
legislature. This bill gave the Adjutant General the authority to
defray the flood disaster expenses of $32,500,000 that have
occurred in ND this spring.
Legislative Report 3-31-09 to 4-3-09
Monday and Tuesday the ND Legislature was not in session due to
the snow storm that dumped 2 feet of snow on our Capitol City. By
April 1 most of the Legislators were back and handled those bills
that they considered to be not so controversial.
I spent most of my time lobbying for our bills and was present in
the Senate and House Appropriations Committee hearings on state
HB 1010 which is the next two years budget for the Insurance
Commissioner was debated and the townships had quite a stake in
the outcome. Earlier in the session, the passage of
HB1294 gave the Insurance Commissioner the authority to charge
a premium to townships (per officer per year) if the Bonding Fund
fell below the $2 million figure. The Insurance Commissioner’s
testimony on Wed. April 1st indicated that the Bonding Fund was
down to $2 million 25,000 and he was ready to send out notices to
all bond holders for $20 per officer. We have about five officers
in each of our organized 1534 townships. This would amount to
5 officers X $20 = $100 per township. $100 per township x 1534 =
$153,400 for bond coverage per year for our organized townships in
ND. In Chapter 58 of the North Dakota Century Code it says we must
purchase coverage from the ND Insurance Bonding Fund.
I had told the Senators in the Appropriations Committee that this
was coming so they were ready to deal with this action from the
Insurance Commissioner. Discussions with the committee members had
indicated that to charge premiums to townships and other state
entities was unacceptable.
The reason the fund balance is so low is due to the investment in
the stock market and poor returns on those investments. The
reduction in value was not due to losses in their operations or
books of business.
After the announcement that $20 per officer per year premium could
be made, Senator
Rich Wardner moved a motion seconded by Senator
Larry Robinson to put a million dollars in with the $2 million
$25,000 that was left in the fund so it would have over $3 million
in the fund and therefore no premiums could be charged to us. This
motion carried unanimously.
We owe a thank you to the Committee Chairman Senator
Ray Holmberg, Senator
Larry Robinson and the other 11 members of the Senate
Appropriations Committee for their prompt action to alleviate the
need to assess townships for the Fidelity Bonding.
I continue to monitor bills that will affect our policies such as
HB 1225 and
SB2229 which all deal with oil and gas taxes for the Western
They seem to be moving along quite smoothly in the legislative
Our main funding source remains unsettled at this time. The DOT
has our share of the Highway Users Fund (2.7%) in it and it has
not passed yet. Much concern was shown today in the House of
Representatives as a large gathering of Republican Representatives
approached me with deep concerns that the townships were going to
come up short of funds due to the removal of $100 million promised
by the Governor in the Highway Users Fund. These Representatives
wanted to do something to be sure that the townships would get
enough funding to make ends meet through the next two years. I
explained the projected shortfall and the need for us to get $13.6
million per biennium to make ends meet on normal years. They
realized that this last winter with the huge snow removal costs
and now the flooding from snow melt and damages to township roads
and culverts which are ongoing that the normal funding would fall
The legislators had approached the Republican leadership and
suggested that townships be granted a one time $25 million
emergency funding package but it was turned down. I gave them fact
sheets that they could use to help convince the leadership of the
needs that exists in the townships and they were to meet again
with leadership and make another offer.
The Senate, most all of the Democrat House members and over half
of the House Republicans believe township road funding is a
priority but the House leadership does not. Our lawmaker
friends must have some support from us to convince the
A large meeting is being planned for WED.
APRIL 15th in the Brynhild Haugland hearing room in the
State Capitol at 9:00 am. All County and City Commissioners,
truckers, ND Transit members, Highway Users, and all ND Township
Officers are urged to attend. Please make a special attempt
to show support to the legislators that are working to help you
with township funding for roads. They need your help !!!!!!!!
NDTOA Executive Secretary/Director of Governmental Relations
Legislative Report 3-23-09 to 3-27-09
The important things happening in ND this week was not legislative
actions but Mother Nature’s actions….. We have seen the ND
Legislative Assembly adjourn to allow their members to go home and
take care of their families and homes due to extraordinary spring
flooding on a state wide basis. Ice jams in the Bismarck area
caused overland flooding that took several well planned explosions
to save citizen’s homes and property from flood damage.
Legislators left their desks to help their friends and neighbors
fight the onslaught of ice chunks and deep cold water.
The water levels in Fargo and surrounding area reached levels
never before attained at any time. Forced evacuations for home,
business owners and students were loudly proclaimed by the media
throughout North Dakota. Senators Conrad and Dorgan praised the
efforts of our citizens and Representative Earl Pomeroy filled
sandbags until he was exhausted.
Grand Forks and those towns and farms along the Red River are
waging a courageous fight to save their homes and property against
Mother Nature’s powerful actions. Small communities are
displaying the type of courage and unity that could only be
displayed by true North Dakotans that are threatened by disaster.
The Legislature will begin again next week and we will be working
SB 2027 City Extraterritorial Zoning and
Transportation Funding for all governmental entities that provide
traveling surfaces to the public. Hopefully awareness of local
road and bridge funding will be a priority in the last days of the
2009 Legislative Session.
NDTOA Executive Secretary
NDTOA Legislative Report 3-9-09 to 3-13-09
The State Board of Directors met in Bismarck and visited the 2009
Legislative Session on
3-9-09. Our next two years funding bill was and still is unsettled
at this time. SB2012 passed the Senate with a 46-0 margin
but the Republican House leadership decided to take $100 million
out of the funding package and put it away for 2011 the
Legislative Session. They were going to substitute $170 million of
the Federal Stimulus dollars in place of the 100 million general
surplus dollars the Governor had set aside for transportation
The problem with that move is that townships do not get any of the
Federal Stimulus Funding. This resulted in a $2.7 million short
fall from the projected replacement for the one cent gas tax.
President Schorsch paid a visit to the Deputy Chief of Staff in
the Governors Office, Lance Gaebe, and was told that the governor
would not oppose townships trying to get the money back in some
way. Ken and Larry met with our partners in the transportation
field, Counties, Cities, Motor Carriers Ass’n, Associated General
Contractors, Wheat Commission President, Transit Authorities of ND
and our Legislator of the Year Award winner from 2007,
Robin Weisz. They pledged to help us to get the funding back.
While we worked to find a suitable way to accomplish this act,
many legislators indicated their support for getting the township
funding restored. The Chairman of the Senate Transportation
Committee was appalled when he learned of the House action and
pledged to fix things. The committee members of the Senate
Transportation Committee expressed the same feeling.
These Senators have hog housed another bill (HB 1407)
and put $2.7 million back in it for township funding. We wish to
thank them for their concern and very heartfelt actions. Please
contact them and thank them in any way you can.
The chairman of the Transportation Committee is:
Senator Gary Lee PO Box 32 Casselton 58012,
Senator George Nodland Vice Chair, 3296 110V Ave. SW Dickinson
Committee members are:
Senator Dave Nething PO Box 1059, Jamestown 58402
Senator Thomas Fiebiger, 6432 North 13th Street, Fargo 58102
Senator Tracy Potter 1320 N 2nd Street Bismarck 58501
Senator Richard Marcellais RR1 Box 267a Belcourt 58316
HB 1554 and
deal with City Extraterritorial Zoning and were heard on 3-12- 09
in committees. I wish to thank all the citizens and township
officers that came to express their opinion on these issues. The N
D Township Officers Association offered testimony at both hearings
in support of our policies developed at past township annual
meetings. At this time, no decisions have been made on
these bills but
was extensively amended by Representative
Lee Kaldor and the amendments are probably the most acceptable
to the committee. It contains 2 rings around a city, the
first ring is two miles from the city limits which would be
controlled mostly by the city and the next two mile ring would be
controlled by the zoning authority already in place. The
bill also contained a way for each entity to be able to object
with the other entities decisions. This is not finished,
many changes could occur yet.
SB 2300 has passed the house by a 92-0 margin. This bill
increases the dollar value that townships can bond for. It was
limited to 25% of the money and property you handle but now you
can bond for the amount you handle or $10,000 whichever is less.
Thanks to Senator
Curtis Olafson our 2008 Legislator of the Year. The Governor
should sign it soon.
HB 1495 is a bill that allows townships to trim tree branches
that hang over into the township highway right of ways. This bill
passed the House with a wide margin and has received a 5-0 do pass
from the Senate Transportation Committee on 3-13-09. This is
another reason to thank the committee members that have stood up
for townships over and over this session.
SB 2229 is a bill that will allow townships to share in the
oil and gas severance tax in the Western North Dakota Counties.
The Oil and Gas Producing Counties Executive, Vicky Steiner, has
repeatedly indicated that township road funding is needed.
At this time, we are considering a need to bring as many township
officers in to Bismarck to testify on our transportation funding
as is possible. Please send an e-mail to Ken Yantes,
email@example.com , if you think you
might be able to travel to Bismarck and help with this successful
effort or mail to Ken Yantes, 1115 North 1st Street Bismarck, ND
Legislative Report 3-2-09 to 3-6-09
This week we had President Kerry Schorsch fill in as a lobbyist
for NDTOA. On March fourth he testified in the House
Appropriations Committee in support of
This is the funding bill we have been working on for the last 18
months which is included in the Department of Transportation’s
budget. A big thanks should go to him for his effort.
On 3-2-09 Barb Knutson testified to the Senate Industry, Business
and Labor Committee in opposition to
HB 1294. This bill will allow the State Bonding Fund to charge
townships on a per officer basis for blanket coverage. We could
see a yearly fee charged to us forever if this bill passes. URGE
YOUR SENATORS TO OPPOSE THIS BILL. The Committee has not acted yet
so you can affect this bill.
Ken Yantes, your National Director, traveled to Washington, D C to
a National Board of Directors meeting from 3-1-09 to 3-4-09. He
was successful in meeting with both the ND and SD Senators and
Representatives in their offices. He announces that our bills on
payroll exemption for local officials have both been reintroduced.
Representative Earl Pomeroy has reintroduced our bill in the House
of Representatives. Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune from South
Dakota have introduced S492 in the Senate and BOTH ND SENATORS
HAVE SIGNED ON THE BILL along with 8 more from other states.
Ken and Larry returned to lobby in the ND Legislature the last two
days of this week.
Larry testified in favor of
HB 1338 which sets up a study resolution that will establish a
state landfill siting board that has township representation on
Judy Lee has amended this bill to consider recycling and
conversion to new alternate fuel usages as part of the study.
Larry also testified in favor of
SB 2052 which will give the counties a couple more years to
complete the soil survey work. These surveys require a lot of time
and effort which Representative
Jerry Kelsh recognized as an unfunded mandate as no money has
been provided to accomplish this expensive task.
Ken testified in the Senate Transportation Committee to
HB 1407 put in the hopper by Representative
Robin Weisz. This bill uses some excise tax on vehicle sales
to fund township and other transportation entities. Representative
Weisz’s impassioned plea for increased township funding due to
lack of increases since 1981 were heard by all. We need to thank
him for his marvelous presentation.
Ken spoke to the Transportation Committee of the need to be able
to pay our bills for the increasing costs of maintaining a safe
driving surface for the traveling public. He added we must see
some increases from somewhere as the Federal Government HAS NOT
INCLUDED TOWNSHIPS IN THEIR STIMULUS PACKAGE FUNDING ANYWHERE
!!!!!!!! …. NOT A PENNY WILL COME TO TOWNSHIPS AS THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT DOES NOT RECOGNISE TOWNSHIP ROADS AS PART OF THE LOCAL
ROAD SYSTEM !!!!!!!!!!!! NO FUNDS FOR US ……………. Ken Yantes
Legislative Report period ending 2-20-09
Cross-over by Ken Yantes
We have reached the crossover date as established by the ND
Legislative Council. All bills and resolutions except
constitutional amendments and study resolutions must be reported
out of their houses of origin. The legislature will be in recess
from 2-20-09 thru 2-24-09.
They have handled 1106 bills and 90 resolutions this first half of
During this last week prior to crossover, the bill action has
revealed the following:
HB 1304 is a bill that included townships in the
infrastructure road repairs of the western oil and gas producing
counties. This bill passed the House by a 94-0 margin.
HB1225 is a bill that will inject more oil and gas tax dollars
into township and county road funding. This bill passed the House
by a 93-0 margin.
HB 1495 is a bill that would allow the township officers to
cut tree branches that hang over the 33 feet of township right of
way on all township rights of way.
HB 1462 is a bill that would kill the Advisory Commission on
Intergovernmental Relations. This bill was lost due to lack of a
constitutional majority of votes. The bill received 47 positive
votes and 45 negative votes with 2 absent and not voting. A
constitutional majority of 48 votes is what is required to attain
passage in the House of Representatives I was not able to lobby in
opposition to this bill for more than a few hours before it was
time to vote due to time constraints. Representatives Arlo
Schmidt, Lee Kaldor and Jerry Kelsh testified in opposition to
killing the ACIR on the House floor. I wish to thank them and the
following representatives that voted against the repeal of the
Bill Amerman, Stacy Boe, Merle Boucher, Tom Conklin, Kari Conrad,
Stacey Dahl, Lois Delmore, Bob Frantsvog, Rod Froelich, Eliot
Chris Griffin, Edmund Gruchalla, Lyle Hanson, Kathy Hawken, Curt
Hofstad, Richard Holman, Bob Hunskor, Dennis Johnson, Nancy
Johnson, Lee Kaldor, Raeann Kelsch, Jerry Kelsch, Scott Kelsch,
Robert Kilichowski, Joyce Kingsbury, Bill Kretschmar, Joe Kroeber,
Bob Martinson, Shirley Meyer, Corey Mock, Phillip Mueller, Lee
Myxter, Jon Nelson, Darrell Nottestad, Kenton Onstad, Louis
Pinkerton, Todd Porter, Arlo Schmidt, Jasper Schneider, Woody
Thorpe, Ben Vig, Robin Weisz, Lonny Winrich, Lisa Wolf, and Steve
If any one of these representatives had not voted against HB1462
the ACIR would have been discontinued. Please thank them for their
support of township policies by voting to keep the Advisory
Commission on Intergovernmental Relations a working committee of
HB 1505 is a bill that will allow a township on the East side
of Minot to be able to get the tax funding that was lost due to a
mix up between the township and the new county auditor in filing
of forms. I testified that if one of our 1140 township members
should happen to stumble, we should give them a hand up which is
what the bill would do. The bill received a 13-0 do pass out of
committee and a 93-0 do pass in the House.
HB1522 was a bill that would have taken away the establishment
of a comprehensive plan when establishing a zoning plan for a
governmental entity. Representative Dwight Wrangham introduced and
defended this bill which we opposed. The bill was defeated by a 6
- 87 margin.
HB 1558 was a bill that would have limited the property tax
increases to not more than 2 % more that the previous years tax
level. With the inflation rate being many times more that 2% and
graveling costs 300% higher, where does the township find funding
to pay the costs of road maintenance?
We opposed this bill and it died by a 17-72 margin.
SB 2027 is a bill on city extraterritorial zoning that was
passed by the ACIR and amended in the Political Subdivisions
Committee this session. The Senate passed this bill by a 46-0
margin and has sent it to the House for their consideration.
SB 2348 was a bill that removed the 8.3% floor from the
agricultural property tax formula. This would have resulted in an
18% increase in agricultural property taxes according to those in
opposition to the bill.
We opposed it and it died by a 22 to 25 vote margin in the Senate.
SB 2414 was a bill we did not support. It was to put taxation
on farm homes that were valued at $75,000 and above. The bill died
in the Senate by a 13 to 33 margin.
SB2229 is a bill that takes the caps off the gross production
side of oil and gas production which leads to increases in road
maintenance dollars to local political subdivisions. The bill
passed the Senate by a 96-0 margin.
SB 2012 is the Department of Transportation’s budget proposal
which passed the Senate by a 46-0 margin. This is the bill that
includes a 32% funding increase for townships over a 2 year
period. Passing this bill without any negative votes is a very
good sign that the policy we passed at our last annual meeting is
going to become ND law.
It seems that our efforts to have interim committees introduce
bills that support our policy (ACIR on
SB 2027 and the DOT budget on
SB 2012) has worked very well. The oil and gas production
resolutions were pretty well covered through cooperating with
Vicky Steiner, CEO of the Oil and Gas Producing Counties.
We asked legislators to introduce legislation for us that covered
the balance of our grassroots developed policies and they all have
successfully passed out of their houses of origin.
We secured the introduction of
SB 2300 which supports the policy that we developed in 2006
asking for increased bond coverage from the State Bonding Fund. We
received a positive vote of 43-0 on
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BILL ON EMERGENCY SNOW REMOVAL FUNDS TO COME
FROM THE EXCESS GENERAL FUND DOLLARS??
On January 26, 2009 Senators Taylor, Horne and Klein along with
Representatives Dekrey, Nelson and Schmidt introduced
SB 2393 which asked for $1,000,000 that is in the states
general fund to be transferred to the Department of Emergency
Services to be used for providing emergency snow removal grants to
counties, townships and cities. Counties could apply for a grant
of up to $100,000, each township could apply for up to $10,000 and
each city could apply for $15,000 if the population was at least
1000 and if cities had a population of under 1000 they could apply
for a $10,000 grant.
On February 5th the Senate Government and Veterans Affairs
Committee held an open public hearing on this bill. Three (3)
township officers came to testify. I had been putting notice in my
weekly legislative report of this important hearing. I sent these
reports out to every District Director. President Kerry Schorsch
put the hearing dates and information on the web page each Friday
for member information. I contacted about fifty (50) members and
urged them to attend the hearings because it isn’t every day that
a township officer can be part of getting $10,000 for his/her
Senator Taylor offered floor amendments to change the requirements
to qualify for the grants on February 16th and the bill went back
to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
On 2-18-09 the bill was further amended by the Senate
Appropriations Committee to remove townships and the lines #9 thru
#15 and sent it back to the Senate.
On 2-19-09 the Senate voted 46-0 to pass
SB 2393 as amended. It provided help for only cities and
Thanks to Ralph Olson, Donny Malcomb and Erling Karlsbraaten for
speaking for their townships in the Senate hearing on February 5th
and to Jason Lee for his presence in the hearing room.
I am home in the Brocket office and realize that the voice mail in
the legislative office is not working right. When I get back in
Bismarck on the 25th I will attempt to get it up and going again.
Feb 13, 2009
This week in the
legislative arena your lobbyists sat in on many bills of concern
to the members of the NDTOA.
HB 1304 is a bill that was heard in the House Appropriations
Committee on 2-12-09. This bill included townships in the county
infrastructure fund relating to the allocation of taxes raised
from oil and gas production in a county. Schools used to take all
of these funds, but with this bill they could only get grant funds
for school bus damage due to bad road conditions. The balance
would be distributed to townships that apply for the grants for
township road repairs. Please urge your representatives to vote
HB 1304 when it comes up for a floor vote the first part of
next week. The House Appropriations Committee has unanimously
voted a Do Pass on
SB 2382 was a bill that would have allowed a vote of the
electors of a township to approve or disapprove the site of a
landfill in the township. This bill had very little input from
township officers or township residents. It received a 6-0 Do Not
Pass out of committee and the bill failed on the Senate floor by a
HB 1338 is another bill that deals with landfills. It was
introduced by Representative
Eliot Glassheim from Grand Forks. This bill was turned into an
SB 2300 is a bill that we asked Senator
Curtis Olafson to introduce for us has passed the Senate this
week by a 43-0 margin. If this bill passes the House of
Representatives, townships will be able to get coverage from the
State Bonding Fund for more that 25% of the money or property
SB 2393 is the bill introduced by Senator
Ryan Taylor that could have brought $10,000 in snow removal
funds to each township. It is still floating around the Senate
with a 3-2 Do Not Pass recommendation. Should a majority of
Senators vote to override the 3-2 Do Not Pass committee
recommendation, it would pass the Senate. Please urge your
Senators to vote for
SB 2393 …the emergency snow funding proposal.
SB 2414 is a bill introduced into the Senate Finance and
Taxation Committee that would allow farm homes to be taxed if they
are valued at over $50,000. Support for this bill was very strong.
Our policy is in opposition to passage and testimony in opposition
from NDTOA was given. Please contact your Senator and urge Do Not
SB 2348 is a bill that removes the cap rate floor set in the
Ag Property Valuation Formula. This change would increase
agricultural property taxes. This would be a very unnecessary move
at this time. The committee voted 5-1 Do Pass. This needs to be
changed--urge a no vote on
SB 2348 in the Senate early this next week.
HB 1495 is a bill we asked Representative
Chuck Damschen to introduce for us. It implements the 2008
NDTOA policy on townships having the right to cut trees that hang
over in the right of way on any township highway. This bill was
heard in House Transportation late Thursday afternoon. It was
defended by Representative
Chuck Damschen and your Executive Secretary Ken Yantes. The
committee voted 10-3 Do Pass recommendation. The full House will
vote on this the first part of the upcoming week. Please urge a Do
HB 1505 was heard in House Political Subdivision Committee on
Friday morning. A mistake was made between a county auditor and a
township which resulted in a township failing to get sufficient
tax funds to operate this year.
HB 1505 allows the township to recover the lost revenue. We
stood in support of our member township on this one. The House
Political Subdivision Committee voted a unanimous Do Pass on
HB 1546 would have weakened the State Board of Tax
Equalization. We opposed this action.
HB 1474 is a bill that would eliminate property taxes. The
House Finance and Taxation Committee voted a Do Not Pass 9-3.
HB 1558 would limit the amount of increase in property taxes
to not more than 2% of the amount levied in dollars in the
preceding year. This bill was given a Do Not Pass by a 8-4
Virtually all committees will be concentrating on finishing their
committee work before the crossover date set for Friday, the 20th
of February. No hearings on township bills will be held in
committee but floor votes on the aforementioned bills will be
Feb 6, 2009
Some of the bills and actions of this week were highlighted by:
SB 2393 A bill introduced by Senator
Ryan Taylor from Towner would have taken money out of the
states general fund surpluses and dedicated it to emergency snow
removal funding for our state's political subdivisions. It could
have meant grants of up to $100,000 for a county, $10,000 for each
township, $10,000 for a town that has under 1,000 population and
$15,000 for a town that has over 1,000 population. A hearing was
held in the Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee on
Feb. 5th to discuss this bill. Ralph Olson, Erling Karlsbraaten
and Jason Lee, township officers from Benson County, testified for
the bill. NDTOA Past President Don Malcomb from Ward County also
offered Ward County’s position in favor of the bill. More than 4
township officers should have come to the hearing as $10,000 per
township could have helped cover some of the excessive cost of
snow removal we are experiencing this winter. The committee voted
a 3 to 2 Do Not Pass on this bill. I can’t explain why but it was
referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on 2-6-09 for a
hearing on 2-12-09.
SB 2382 is a bill that would give a township the right to
approve or disapprove a landfill site in a township. Senator
Dwight Cook introduced the bill and Beau Bateman and I were
the only ones to support the bill. A huge number of city residents
from Grand Forks opposed passage and the committee voted a 6-0 Do
Not Pass on the bill. Numbers count in this legislative process.
If we are going to win these, we must have membership support.
Eliot Glassheim form Grand Forks introduced
HB 1338 which sets up a state committee to decide landfill
sites in any political subdivision. The board consists of 7
members, one appointed by the Association of Counties, one
appointed by the ND Township Officers State Board of Directors,
one from the Cities and four from the state government with
environmental expertise. One township official probably wouldn’t
have much influence in the decisions of this board, so Larry
Syverson opposed passage of the bill. The door was left open for a
study in the next interim period on this subject.
HB 1554 was heard in the Brynhild Haugland hearing room; it
started at 2:30 pm and ran until about 6:00 pm. This was another
bill on Extraterritorial Zoning introduced by Representative
Dwight Wrangham and it had a lot of strength for the citizens
of the territory to be zoned. The big room was full of testifiers
on both sides of the bill. Due to the large turnout from the
cities, the outcome is still uncertain. Larry Syverson delivered
four pages of testimony in favor of this bill regarding the
citizens right to be able to vote in an extraterritorial zoning
Ben Vig from Aneta introduced
HB 1555 which would have increased the township one cent gas
tax to two cents per gallon. We wish to thank him for his efforts.
Should all other funding efforts fail, it is clear to me that we
should have given him statewide support to get this passed. Larry
did testify in favor of the bill in committee and we did lobby in
the halls for support for
HB 1555. We need membership support through the grassroots
policy development area before we can put on the right kind of
campaign to be successful with this next time.
Larry and I attended the hearing on
HB 1441 and
HB 1442. These bills called for the raising of highway weight
restrictions from 80,000 lbs to 105,000 lbs on our highways and
the removal of the State Highway Patrol Officers authority to
enforce weight restrictions on these same highways. Three County
Highway Engineers offered proof of what the increase in weight
would do to the county and township roads that were not designed
to handle the extra weight. The Burleigh County Sheriff testified
that working with the State Highway Patrol Officers was a good
deal in his county and asked for the lawmakers to allow to
continue what was working very well in Burleigh County.
SB 2300 is a bill Introduced by Senator
Curtis Olafson from Edinburg for the NDTOA. This bill would
increase the coverage for small governmental entities from 25% of
the money they handle to an amount at least equal to the amount of
money or property actually handled or ten thousand dollars,
whichever is less. This bill was to be amended by the attorneys
from the State Insurance Commissioners Office. We didn’t like what
their amendment would do so we insisted that the original wording
prevail. The Committee agreed with us and voted 6-0 Do Pass on
SB 2300. The bill will be voted on in the full Senate next
week. Please urge your Senators to vote for
SB 2300 to allow increased State Bonding, to the $10,000
level, for townships. $2500 is just not enough.
Some of the bills to watch next week are:
SB 2414 allows taxation of farm homes that are valued over
SB 2348 removes the cap rate in the agricultural property
HB 1444 requires that all taxing districts, including
townships, must approve exemptions for new or expanding business
interests or new home construction within a taxing district.
SB 2244 allows the continuance of the farm residence exemption
to the surviving spouse of a deceased farmer.
SB 2092 deals with the rear bumper requirement for farm
We have a people's legislature and, unlike other states, you can
directly affect the laws of your state. Remember ……..
legislatively, numbers count.
Jan 30, 2009
Legislative Report for the week beginning 1-26-09 thru 1-30-09
This past Monday started out in the House Finance and Taxation
Committee. HB1335 was heard and it would have allowed an income
tax deduction of $2,000 to those who home schooled a child. Most
Committee members didn’t like the sounds of this but a vote was
HB 1375 was heard and this bill would have directed an
assessor to give notice to every tax payer that had his true and
full property value increased by 5%. The committee’s questions
indicated that they thought the present 10% was better.
On Tuesday I testified for our
SB 2300 which is a bill that sought to allow political
subdivisions to get more coverage than the 25% that the State
Bonding Fund presently allows. Senator
Olafson and I were the only 2 testifiers that spoke to defend
the passage of
Jeff Bitz and another 4 representatives of the Bond Fund and
Insurance Commissioners office came in to explain how wrong it was
to pass the bill as written. They suggested a lengthy amendment
which we have a problem with. All we want is to have the
Bonding Fund cover small income political subdivisions from the
present level of $2500 to be increased to $10,000.
HB 1422 was heard in House Finance and Taxation.
This bill limited home rule authority to place taxes on property
and limited the increase of taxable valuation to a 2% per year
limit. The bill is still in committee and has not been voted
This week the Township Legislative office suffered some down time
…….. The office computer malfunctioned and had to be taken to the
GEEK Squad at the Best Buy Store for a de-virus treatment. In mid
week a new laser printer was delivered and I received instructions
on its use. It seems to be much faster than the old one that did
not answer the call when we started the 2009 legislative season.
We can now take faxes at phone # 701-258-6391.
On Friday morning Larry testified in House Transportation
Committee in favor of
HB 1555 which was a bill put in by Representative
Vig that would have raised the one cent gas tax to two cents
for township road maintenance.
I testified in House Government and Veterans Committee in
opposition to passage of
HB 1462 which will repeal the NDCC that allows the Advisory
Commission on Inter-governmental Relations to continue.
This upcoming week will be a big week for townships. Senator
Ryan Taylor from Towner, ND has introduced a bill that will
help most of us.
SB 2393, which if passed, would take a million dollars out of
the general fund and use it for emergency snow removal grants to
Counties Cities and Townships. In order to be eligible to receive
a grant, a political subdivision must have expended at least 70%
of its snow removal reserve funds. Should this bill pass,
qualifying counties could get $100,000, Townships could get
$10,000, cities of at least 1000 could get up to $15,000 and those
cities with under 1000 population could get $10,000. Senator
Taylor is the prime sponsor of this bill but Senators
Klein are also signed on the bill. Members of the House
of Representatives that have endorsed this bill are
Jon Nelson and
Arlo Schmidt. Be sure to come to Bismarck and testify
for SB2393 on Feb. 5th in the Missouri Room at 9:00 AM in the
Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. It could make
$10,000 in snow removal funds available to your Township!!!!
Jan 23, 2009
Report for the week 1-19 thru 1-23 Larry Syverson joined the
legislative effort on Monday the 19th of January. He hit the
ground running and hasn’t stopped yet. The 19th was the deadline
for representatives to introduce bills and we had a couple to go
before the day ended.
We asked Representative Chuck Damshen from Hampden ND, to be prime
sponsor for a bill in support of our resolution on trees in the
right of way. We sought and found co-sponsors Rep. Richard
Holman from Mayville and Don Vigesaa from Cooperstown ND. We
then went to the Senate to get proper endorsements from interested
Senators. We secured Senator Curtis Olafson, Senator from
Edinburg, Senator Larry Robinson Valley City and senator Rich
Wardner from Dickinson as co signers on our Bill #
I testified in favor of
which is the Department of Transportations budget bill that has
the 32% increased funding for townships in it.
On Jan 20th we sat in on three bills concerning oil tax revenues.
Larry testified in favor of
SB 2051 which supported our policy developed at our last
We worked on getting support for the introduction of a bill that
would increase the amount of coverage townships can get from the
ND Bonding fund. In 2005 a bill was passed that reduced the
coverage from all the funds handled to only 25% of them.
Senator Olafson understood our problem and agreed to introduce a
bill to help us. He is prime sponsor of
SB 2300 and the following Senators signed on as cosponsors to
support the bill, Senator Andrist Crosby and Senator Arden
Anderson and House Members Wes Belter, Craig Headland and Lee
Your lobbying team has been present in the halls, hearing rooms
Senate and the House of representatives every day since the
Friday 1-23-09 we attended a hearing on city extra territorial
zoning in the form of
Barb Knutson joined with Ken and Larry just before the hearing
started at 9:00 am and stayed until 2:40 pm when the meeting
adjourned. Both Ken and Larry testified in favor of passage of the
bill as presented but the League of Cities amended the bill and
had many testifiers there from all the big cities in ND. They took
up a lot of the time that township testifiers should have had.
The Chairman of the Committee indicated he would not close on the
bill until next Friday so please contact the committee members and
urge a do pass on
in its unamended state. These members are; Chair Dick Dever, Dave
Oehlke, Dwight Cook, Robert Horne and Carolyn Nelson.
Next week we have some big bills up ------- Friday the 30th of Jan
in house Transportation Committee at about 9:30 AM Representative
Ben Vig has a bill up that will increase the township one cent gas
tax to two cents per gallon. Urge passage of this bill when
you talk to your legislators. The bill number is
The upcoming week in House Finance and Taxation Committee from
Monday thru Wed. there are continued bills on property income and
oil taxation that should be of interest to all ND Citizens.
We continue to serve your interests and look forward to seeing you
here at the Capitol.
Ken and Larry
Jan 16, 2009
NDTOA Legislative Report
Dear Township Leaders,
The 2009 Legislative Session started with the State of the State
address and has been moving pretty fast ever since.
Most Legislators have been busy getting their bills introduced and
did not have time to work on our bills. It looks like we may have
a record number of bills introduced this session as there has been
451 House Bills and 240 Senate Bills introduced by the close of
business on Thursday night. Rumors are that 146 bills were thrown
in the hopper on Friday and many more will be added on Monday.
Much of my time this week was spent on reading and filing bills in
our office. I have been at the Capitol and present in hearing
rooms and behind the rail in the House and the Senate.
I testified in favor of getting a township representative on the
Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute's advisory board, but
the amendment to do so was defeated by the majority party on a 4-3
party line vote.
I testified in the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of
continued funding for the UGPTI as they had been very active in
bringing forward the effects of inflation on township road
Last weeks snow storms dropped record levels of snow in ND. I was
concerned about our township snow removal budgets. Late on
Thursday afternoon I talked with our Lt. Governor Jack Dalrymple
and told him about my concern for Townships and Counties and a
need to find some emergency funding for them as it is early in the
snow fall season. Lt. Governor Dalrymple informed me that the
Governors office was very concerned and that, Lance Gaebe, Deputy
Chief of the Governors Staff was studying the problem. He
suggested that I talk to him and see what he had in mind as his
advice to the Governor would be of great importance to any
decision made on the emergency action. I talked to Lance for over
an hour and at the conclusion I was assured that he was sincerely
concerned and dedicated to do the right thing for us. I was very
happy to see the amount of research he had accumulated on past
snow fall Gubernatorial actions and present conditions in our
This upcoming week I will be attending and testifying for
SB 2012 which is a
bill that will set aside $120 million for road maintenance. We
passed a resolution this December to be in support of this and I
have developed testimony in favor of itʼs passage. The bill will
be heard on Monday January 19th at 8:30 AM in the Harvest Room in
front of the Senate Appropriations Committee. If You have a
Senator on this committee please contact him or her and ask for a
positive vote on
SB 2012 the
Budget for the State Department of Transportation Should this bill
pass it would mean a 32% increase in township funding. There are
many other bills to increase township funding, one asks for a
second cent to be added to the one cent gas tax for us. There is a
great concern out there for road funding. Our resolutions on oil
tax revenues for road maintenance have been covered by the
representatives from the oil producing areas.
Representative Chuck Damschen will be introducing a bill in
support of the policy we have on township road right of ways.
Since the session started I have been trying to find the right
language to put in a bill to allow townships to be able to bond
themselves for more than 25% of the money that they handle. I
believe that Senator Curtis Olafson has come up with that wordage
and will be introducing a bill that will allow up to $10,000 of
our budgets to be covered by the State Bonding Fund. Very
aggressive support has been found in both houses for his proposal.
Larry Syverson will be joining the Township Legislative effort
this next Monday, January 19th . I look forward to his help and
very sincere dedication to do the best we can for our membership.
Your Executive Secretary/Director of Governmental Relations
Jan 9, 2009
The first week of the 2009 Legislative Session has concluded. The
State of the State message and the recognition of the Indian
tribes by the joint sessions of the Senate and House of
representatives took up a lot of the legislator's time. It was
good that the Governor indicated support for the road maintenance
funding in his speech. I attended the opening ceremonies of those
committees we will be working with on an everyday basis this year.
Of note, Senator Cook is chair of the Senate Taxation committee,
Senator Andrist is Chairman of the Senate Political Subdivisions
As normal, legislators are busy
getting their own bills introduced first. Next week we will get
some of ours introduced. We have SB2012 The department of
transportations budget wherein we have the $120 million road
funding proposal already submitted. Another on extraterritorial
zoning by cities, SB2027 has been submitted.
I testified in support of including
the ND Transit to the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
Advisory Board and concluded my testimony with the advice to the
committee that townships should be included also. Everyone
there agreed with me except the Farm Bureau.
I also attended a Senate Political
Subdivisions meeting and surfaced the need to bond townships for
the dollars we handle and not just 25% as the law now states.
Jeff Bitzs manager of the Bonding Fund indicates he was to begin
to charge for the bonding at about $5 per township. Senators did
not agree with this and were to introduce a bill to have funding
from the general fund used instead.