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Legislative Updates

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Call your legislators:  Toll Free 888-635-3447

2009

 
List of bills affecting townships (Click on bill number to review):


HB 1010 Township bonding, insurance commissioner
HB 1225 Oil and gas funding for townships
HB 1294 Township bonding

HB 1304 Allocation of oil impact funds to affected townships for road repair
HB 1375 Directs assessor to give notice of property tax increase
HB 1338 Landfill sites in townships and elsewhere determined by state committee
HB 1407 Highway distribution fund
HB 1422 Home rule tax authority limitation
HB 1441 Raising highway weight restrictions
HB 1442 Raising highway weight restrictions
HB 1444 Requires approval of exemptions for new business or home construction
HB 1474 Property tax elimination
HB 1462 Repeal of Advisory Commission on Inter-governmental Relations
HB 1495 Trees/obstructions in right of way
HB 1505 Recover lost funds for a township
HB 1522  Comprehensive plan as part of zoning ordinance
HB 1546 Weakens state board of equalization
HB 1554 Extraterritorial zoning authority of cities
HB 1555 Township gas tax increase
HB 1558 Property tax increase limitation

SB 2012 Transportation bill                      
SB 2027 Extraterritorial zoning authority of cities                 
SB 2051 Oil impact funding
SB 2052 County soil survey implementation
SB 2092 Rear bumper requirement for farm trucks
SB 2229 Oil and gas production caps
SB 2244 Continuance of farm residence exemption for surviving spouse                   
SB 2300 Township bonding coverage 
SB 2348  Removes cap rate in ag property valuation formula
SB 2382 Township authority to approve/disapprove landfill siting within townships
SB 2393 Emergency snow removal grants to townships
SB 2414 Taxation on farm homes
SB 2444 Flooding expenses
                                        
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Legislative Updates

 

NDTOA LEGISLATIVE REPORT 5-1-09 Final one for 2009

 

Township Leaders,

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 township officers.

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 passable.

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 deadline.

Ken Yantes

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 SB 2012 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 SB 2012 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 Fund.  If SB 2012 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.

SB 2012 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 SB 2012 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 state.

SB 2027 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.

Ken Yantes
NDTOA Executive Secretary


NDTOA Legislative Report 4-13-09 to 4-17-09

Township Leaders,

The highlights from Bismarck this week include passage of SB 2393 (the one million dollar snow emergency bill introduced by Senator Ryan Taylor) and the transportation Meeting held on 4-15-09 that I have been informing you of in the last two Legislative reports.

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 flooding.

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.

I think SB 2012 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 passage of SB 2012 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

Township Leaders,

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. Wrangham and SB 2027 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 Representatives. 

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 SB 2012 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.   This bill, HB 1407 has been passed by the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be in Conference Committee with another bill SB 2012 that seeks to fund transportation entities.

These bills, HB 1407 and  SB 2012, 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

Township Leaders:

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 commission budgets.

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  Rich Wardner,  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 HB1235, HB 1225 and SB2229 which all deal with oil and gas taxes for the Western ND townships.
They seem to be moving along quite smoothly in the legislative process.

Our main funding source remains unsettled at this time. The DOT Budget Bill SB 2012 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 way short.

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 nonbelievers. 

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 !!!!!!!!

Ken Yantes
NDTOA Executive Secretary/Director of Governmental Relations

 


Legislative Report 3-23-09 to 3-27-09
 
Township Leaders,
 
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 on SB 2027 City Extraterritorial Zoning and SB 2012 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.
 
 Ken Yantes
 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 funding. 
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, Representative  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 58601

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 SB 2027 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 SB 2027 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, ken@ndtoa.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 58501.


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 SB 2012. 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 it. Senator 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

Township Leaders,

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 the session.

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 ACIR:
Bill Amerman, Stacy Boe, Merle Boucher, Tom Conklin, Kari Conrad, Stacey Dahl, Lois Delmore, Bob Frantsvog, Rod Froelich, Eliot Glassheim,
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 Zaiser.
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 state government.

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 SB 2300.
                                                              *********
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 township.

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 counties.

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.

Ken Yantes


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 for 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 HB 1304.

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 3-43 margin.

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 Interim Study.

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 handled.

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 Pass on SB 2414.

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 Pass on HB 1495.

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 1505.

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 committee vote.

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 held.


Feb 6, 2009

Township Leaders,
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.

Representative 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 action.

Representative 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 $50,000
SB 2348 removes the cap rate in the agricultural property valuation formula.
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 trucks.

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
Township Leaders,

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 not taken.

Next 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 SB 2300.
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.

On 1-28-09, 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 on yet.

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 Horne and Klein are also signed on the bill.  Members of the House of Representatives that have endorsed this bill are Representatives Duane Dekrey, 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

Legislative 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 # HB 1495.

I testified in favor of SB 2012 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 annual meeting.

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 Kaldor.

Your lobbying team has been present in the halls, hearing rooms Senate and the House of representatives every day since the session started.

Friday 1-23-09 we attended a hearing on city extra territorial zoning in the form of SB 2027. 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 SB 2027 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 HB 1555

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 1-16-09

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 maintenance costs.

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 state.

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

Ken Yantes


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 Committee.

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.


 

 

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