Things are really getting in full swing out in Pierre this week. Even though we’ve already tackled some hard issues, the hard deadlines for filing bills passed last Friday, and our committees are loaded. This week, the House Commerce and Energy committee will be hearing testimony on everything to firearms to rental car insurance in addition to the final portion of our hearing on HB 1067, the medical insurance bill that I’ve heard so much from so many of you about. A special hearing for that bill will take place after session on Wednesday afternoon.
The findings of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for education bills have finally arrived for our discussion. HB 1182 is the 1/2 cent sales tax increase, and the rest of the changes to education funding arrive as Senate Bills 131 and 133. I have attended all of the Department of Education informational sessions regarding the implementation of these bills. I will tell you what I have told members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force and have brought up in several meetings. Other revenues being equally distributed is causing me concern. The original intent of leaving the Wind Energy Tax receipts left to local schools and governments was the “carrot on the stick” to encourage landowners to consent to having wind towers on their property. Knowing that the local school would reap some of the benefits sown with wind energy development solves a large portion of tower siting issues. Ever since the groundbreaking ceremony for the CapX2020 power grid expansion including the Big Stone South to Brookings and the Big Stone South to Ellendale ND power line projects, the anticipation of wind energy development in our district has grown substantially, and taking away this tool for tower siting is not helpful. I will continue to be involved in discussions to keep at least part of that other revenues available to our school districts going forward.
I am hearing from a lot of on both sides of the Governor’s education recommendations and I appreciate the input. Please keep it coming in! firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for the opportunity to serve you in Pierre.