Legislative odds and ends

For both time and space reasons, it’s difficult to cover everything that happens each day. Here are a few recent odds and ends.

Proposed legislation related to schools and weather closings:

"If a public school or school district closes for only a portion of its regular school day, the hours during which the school or school district is closed may be added together to determine the number of additional full days of instruction that may be waived under this section."

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The Taxation Committee was updated on tax increment financing districts.

There have been 89 approved districts in the state, with 30 of those completed. Twenty-seven North Dakota cities have established TIFs. The longest dates back to 1979.

Projects include housing, building renovation, parking facilities, historic building preservation, street improvements, a fertilizer plant, senior housing, industrial parks, apartment construction, motels, water/sewer and assisted-living facilities.

Some legislators expressed concerns about the indefinite amount of time granted to some projects and if schools and counties are getting their share of tax money.

"It appears to me we’ve got some discrepancies here that, as a tax committee, we need to get to the bottom of and just make sure this whole TIF program, which I think is a good program, is used as it was intended and that we’re not shorting our schools and counties," said Rep. Wes Belter, R-Leonard.

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The Taxation Committee gave first reading approval to a bill draft "relating to exclusion of subsidized rental property from the property tax exemption for property used for charitable or other public purposes…………property is not used wholly or in part for public charity or charitable or other public purposes if that property is residential rental property leased to tenants based on income restrictions that enable the owner to receive a federal subsidy in any form, including an income tax credit, unless the owner or operator also provides health care to tenants who have a demonstrated need for it."

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The Office of Adjutant General State Disaster Relief Fund’s projected 2009-11 expenditures:

2009 flood: $5.4 million

2010 flood: $2.8 million

January 2010 winter snowstorm: $2.3 million

April 2010 ice storm: $3.8 million

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The legislative organizational session is set to start Dec. 6.

The State of the State is Jan. 4.

The State of the Judiciary is Jan. 5

The tribal-state relationship message is Jan. 6.

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Brass refinishing in the House and Senate chambers would cost $421,800

Wood stripping and renovation in the House and Senate chambers and hall areas would cost $882,700.

Desk wood renovation in the House and Senate chambers would cost $154,500.

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A recent survey of AARP members in North Dakota found:

–76 percent were extremely or very concerned about affording the cost of prescription drugs

–83 percent were extremely or very concerned about affording health care

–75 percent were extremely or very concerned about being able to stay in their own home as they get older.

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North Dakota’s eight regional Human Service Centers provided 25,289 people with substance abuse and mental health services in fiscal year 2009. Native Americans accounted for 11.1 percent of those served, according to testimony from Nancy McKenzie of the state Department of Human Services.

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North Dakota continues to work on a statewide health information exchange that would allow electronic movement of health-related information. Sheldon Wolf, the health information technology director, says providers expect the sharing of information to decrease errors, reduce duplicate procedures and tests, lower costs and improve quality of care. 

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