The North Dakota Legislature is working to pass or fail all bills in their respective chambers before their mid-session break known as Crossover. Each chamber has the majority of their agency bills to act on, but still expects to be done on Thursday. Floor sessions will take up the majority of the days this week.

Wind energy moratorium

Senator Dwight Cook attached a “Hog House Amendment” (changed an original bill into a new bill by amending the bill) to SB 2314. The amendment calls for a two-year moratorium on wind energy development in North Dakota and to study the issue in the interim.

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SB 2289 addresses such issues as mandatory equipment and parts purchases, payment chargebacks, unfair performance requirements and dealership terminations. The bill was re-referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee to be worked on the bill this week and amended to further define “agricultural equipment.” The bill then received a “do pass” recommendation. It has not received a final vote. It passed the floor without a dissenting vote. 

The Department of Transportation budget is housed in SB 2012. The amended budget has a $66.4 million reduction; a 22-percent decrease in operating expenses from the $295.8 million budget. The budget includes the closing of eight maintenance shops: Starkweather, Finley, Fessenden, Gackle, Litchville, New England, Courtenay and Mayville. Lawmakers tried to attach an amendment to require the DOT to keep the shops through mid-2019, but that amendment ultimately failed. The bill passed out of committee 11-3.

HB 2225 repeals current law on the posting of land and creates the assumption that “all private land is considered posted.” North Dakota Farmers Union testified on this bill, citing that “our members have had longstanding policy in support of landowner rights, and that all land should be considered posted.” The bill was changed substantially today, making it into a pilot study, allowing for no more than 5 counties and for the the county commissions to vote on whether or not to be a pilot county. Finally, the bill creates an electronic registry likened to that of an electronic plats book. The bill has not been voted out of committee.

While the ag commissoner’s budget will include $120,000 for the National Genomic Center housed in Fargo, the commissioner’s budget will suffer a 15 percent cut and a loss of four full-time employees.

SB 1282, the bill that creates limitations on commodity groups, was worked on this week. The bill was turned into a study of commodity councils by other states’ regulations.

SB 2327, the bill that separates the North Dakota Department of Health from its Environmental Division, passed the Senate 27-17.

— Kayla Pulvermacher, Member Advocacy Director, NDFU