Legislative Update: Week 4
This week brings the end of the House of Representatives and the Senate introducing more bills unless it is through one of the delayed bills committees chaired by Klein and/or Pollert. Study resolutions and proposed constitutional amendments can still be introduced until February 23rd. The final tally of bills introduced is 845. Now that all the bills have been submitted some key themes are starting to emerge. There are numerous bills focused on the Legacy Fund, bonding, response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and energy. GNDC evaluates all the bills, including these specifically focused bills, to determine their potential positive or negative impacts on business. Our tracking list now consists of 261 bills.
Here are some key bills heard last week.
SB 2272 is a bill to continue the North Dakota Career Builders program. During the 2019 Legislative Session, GNDC championed this bill along with the Economic Development Association of North Dakota(EDND), then-Representative Jim Grueneich, and others in the business community. Career Builders is a skilled workforce matching grant program with private sector and state funds that can be used towards scholarship or loan forgiveness. The North Dakota University System offered some changes to the program to help it function more efficiently. GNDC’s focus is on continuing the appropriation of the unspent funds from this biennium. The initial hearing in front of the Senate Education Committee saw a lot of support testimony from education-related agencies along with private business.
GNDC testified in favor. There was no opposition testimony. The committee took no action on the bill.
HB 1374 aims to exempt income taxes on any state or federal funds received in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tax policy around these funds was a significant concern for businesses following the first CARES Act and relief funding like the Paycheck Protection Program. In the latest Consolidated Appropriation Act, 2021 that contained the $900 billion COVID relief package, tax policy was included that satisfied much of what this bill was trying to do and the concerns of the business community. The North Dakota Tax Department generally follows federal tax policy and procedures in these matters. A significant question about this bill is specific to pandemic-related unemployment benefits that are paid out. The House Finance and Tax Committee is working with the Tax Department to answer questions and to determine if this bill is needed. GNDC testified in favor as we support the concept that this bill is trying to address; however, in the end, it may be policy that is not needed.
Other bills on our tracking list:
- 1173: Aimed to educate voters by placing the entire measure language on the ballot - MONITOR
- 1352: Would restrict employers' deployment of medical products for combating the pandemic and would have held manufacturers of these products liable if they are mandatory - OPPOSE
- 2245: An appropriation of $15 million to be used towards in improvements at the intermodal facility in Minot - SUPPORT