The second week of the session has turned up the pace as most of us have a full schedule of committee work and bills being acted on in the floor sessions.
Some committees are seeing a large amount of hearing activity with other still not getting a full schedule of bills. Agriculture and Political Subdivisions are committee that do not have much on their plate as of yet. There is still one week left to introduce bills and then we will know how much work there will be to do.
In Education Committee we acted on SB 2094 limits mandatory fee increases to not more than one percent of tuition for student college fees and makes any requested increases over this one percent require the vote of the student body. This increase cap was to take effect on June 30, 2015 and this bill makes it take effect immediately. We have heard a lot of complaints on how colleges have used student fees to fund parts of education and keep this amount out of the tuition area. This cap of one percent should help in how fast student fees can increase. It also give student more voice on when fees increase. We also heard reports from the Chancellor of Higher Education, Hamid Shirvani and all 11 of our state institution’s that was to highlight the mission and projected future of higher education in the state of North Dakota. Each school was given 40 minutes to discuss their school highlights in areas of campus vision, enrollment trends, retention & graduation rates, accountability, economic impact, future capital projects and future goals. This information is expected to give us a baseline and introduction to each school and overall feeling of the State Higher Education needs and wants.
SB 2033 & 2034 were acted on in Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. These two bills relating to IT projects and the process that is used to make them stay on time and budget. Both of these bills were recommended by the State Information Technology Committee which, I do serve on and I will carry both of these bills to floor on Monday and Tuesday..
In other committee work SB 2106 is a bill regarding roll-your-own cigarette machines. This bill drew a full room, lots of debate and has gained considerable media attention. Currently there is no tax on cigarettes made in these types of roll-your-own cigarette machines. If this bill is passed it will stop the illegal production of cigarettes through these types of machines. It looks like this will pass out of committee and will be debated on the floor
On Thursday, we did have something that doesn’t happen very often, is the fast tracking of House Bill 1186. This bill would prevent comments that are posted to the state’s new bill tracking systems by public entities from being public records. The availability to post notes or comments on this bill tracking system has always been available, but was previously contracted to NDSU and has always deemed these comments as private and would not be made available to the public. Now that this tracking system in done through legislative council, they felt that a clear definition was needed to confirm that these attached notes and comments would remain private. Even though there was no hearing held on this bill, there was plenty of information about it. It was felt with the amounts of comments that were being compiled and the speed of the request for information on bill tracking due to the technology available, that was needed to be done as quickly as possible. So HB 1186 did pass both chambers and was signed by the Governor, and has become law. One done and a 1,000 to go.
I have received some comments through the state message service and have been getting some emails on issues and hope that all of you find this service easy to use and helpful. Even though we receive a tremendous amount of emails, I do appreciate hearing from the people of our district.
If you have questions or
concerns, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Don Schaible