BISMARCKâ€”A bill aimed at providing accountability and transparency to college student fees received unanimous support in the North Dakota Senate on Friday.
Senate Bill 2351 requires the state Board of Higher Education to publish the following on its website:
— The amount of mandatory fees that each college charges students and a breakdown of the fees by purpose or service.
— The amount of any program-specific fees that each college charges students.
— The amount of fees for optional purposes or services that each college may charge students and a breakdown of those fees.
The bill also sets guidelines for fee increases and requests a legislative study of student fees.
â€œStudents and parents deserve the opportunity to see what their dollars are supporting and how these fee increases are determined,â€ said Sen. Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford.
The bill now moves on to the House.
The Senate also unanimously approved a bill that Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, said is designed to bring fairness to the property tax assessment system.
Senate Bill 2294 requires an exterior and interior inspection of each home and business at least once every 10 years. The bill requires the assessor to keep records for every property assessed.
The bill also allows the state supervisor of assessments to petition the tax commissioner for a hearing to revoke the certification of a tax assessor. There would be an appeal process and the opportunity to get the certificate back.
Cook said the goal is to raise the standard and ensure assessments are being done uniformly and correctly.
The bill now moves to the House.
Senators agreed there should be a study looking into why the state Department of Human Services has an increased caseload and use of its programs.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 4020 states the number of Medicaid eligibles has increased from 53,644 in December 2008 to 63,473 in November 2010.
Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, said this is occurring despite North Dakotaâ€™s strong economy and the stateâ€™s low unemployment rate.
The goal is to understand why this is to see what changes are needed during the next legislative session, he said.
The Senate also passed a bill to create a North Dakota Commission on Higher Education Funding that would examine alternative methods for funding higher education. Senators also approved Senate Bill 2150, the main K-12 education bill.
Both now move to the House.