Legislative Update: Week 7
The end of the first half is insight. The House and Senate will wrap-up the bills from their respective houses of origin this week. According to Rep. Josh Boschee, the week will focus on the floor votes, "The ND Senate has likely two more days of voting before it can recess for crossover, while the more chatty House likely has four more days of voting."
On returning from afternoon recess, Speaker of the House K. Koppelman stated the House of Representatives had 146 bills to act upon. Bills with large appropriations, including agency appropriation bills, are normally some of the last bills to get a final vote. Also of great importance are Legacy Fund policy proposals that will be taken up during the final week before crossover.
An item on our Legislative Watch list is Legacy Fund Policy Framework. GNDC has strongly advocated the need to establish a policy framework around the Legacy Fund to bring stability and maximize its benefit to the state. HB 1380, HB 1425, and HB 1431 are bills that will aid in creating this policy framework and activate the Legacy Fund for North Dakotans.
HB 1431 [Infrastructure Bonding Package] is a $680 million infrastructure bonding package that includes funding for water projects, roads and bridges, and education infrastructure. GNDC supports this bill.
- $435.5 million – Fargo Diversion Project
- $74.5 million - Resources Trust Fund
- $50 million – Infrastructure Revolving Loan Fund
- $70 million – Highway Trust Fund
- $50 million - NDSU – Agriculture Products Development Center
The Senate will review the bill as passed and the funding for Career and Technical Education and the University System that was amended out of the original bill.
HB 1380 [Legacy Fund Earnings Streams Bill] is labeled the streams bill because it dedicates funding streams of Legacy Fund earnings to specific areas. The original bill had 14 dedicated streams, Supporting this bill, GNDC believes with amendments the number of streams will be greatly reduced. The dedicated streams will address the allocation needed to make the bond payment detailed in HB 1431, allocations for clean sustainable energy investments, allocations for the infrastructure revolving loan fund and will include legislative intent for the 68th Legislative Assembly in 2023. Legislative intent will address State of North Dakota infrastructure investments and one-time projects that diversify the state’s economy. The Legacy Fund earnings in this bill will be based on a five-year rolling average for the biennium of 6%. Any earnings generated from the Legacy Fund principle above 6% will be split 40/40/20:Strategic Investment and Improvement Fund/reinvested into the principal/reduction in state income tax.
This bill is expected to pass but has not been passed out of the House Appropriations Committee.
HB 1425 [In-State Legacy Fund Investments] would allow for up to 20% of the Legacy Fund principal to be invested in-state by North Dakota investment firms. The current investment strategy for the Legacy Fund is to garner the highest rate of return possible, which in most cases means investing out-of-state and even out-of-country. The proponents of the bill would like to see that money put to work in North Dakota. The proposal directs the State Investment Board to invest in the Legacy Infrastructure Revolving Loan Fund, to give preference to in-state investment firms and invest in in-state existing or emerging companies. This is a strategic path towards economic diversification and infrastructure investments in North Dakota, while still growing the Legacy Fund for future generations. GNDC supports this bill.
The House Appropriations gave this bill a 15-5-1 do pass recommendation with amendments.
OTHER BILLS TO WATCH THIS WEEK:
HB 1464 [State Fuel Tax Increase] proposed a 4 cent per gallon increase in North Dakota’s state fuel tax. This bill has been through a couple of rounds of amendments - one round proposed a 6 cents per gallon increase. As passed out of the House Transportation Committee, with an 8-6 do-pass vote, is a 3 cent increase to 26 cents per gallon state fuel tax. These funds are deposited into the Highway Tax Distribution Fund that gets used throughout the state for road and bridge infrastructure. Although infrastructure is a critical need in the state, GNDC opposed this bill because there are other options for funding infrastructure other than raising taxes. This bill also increases the registration fees on electric vehicles from $120 to $200 and hybrid vehicles from $50 to $100. The bill also includes a study to look at the impacts that electric and hybrid vehicles have on future transportation funding.
This bill was divided and voted on in the House on 2-22. Part A, regarding the registration fees of hybrid/electric vehicles, was passed. Part B, regarding the 3-cent increase, also passed after much debate.
QUICK BILL TRACKING:
- HB 1420 – Legalization of recreational marijuana - OPPOSE
- HB 1501 – Tax policy if rec marijuana passes - MONITOR