VOLUME 13, NUMBER 2             January 16, 2009


To: Members

From: David Crothers, Executive Vice President

The second week of the Sixty-First Legislative Assembly has concluded with a flurry of activity on telecommunications-related legislation.  The Association has been extremely active attending committee hearings on both the House and Senate sides of the aisle throughout the week.

Of particular note this week, is Senate Bill 2133, which proposes that the Veteran’s Home in Lisbon be allowed to procure telecommunications systems and services from a third-party vendor instead of the State’s Information Technology Department.  The Administrator of the Veteran’s Home, Mark Johnson, testified that they would be able to have state-of-the-art telecommunications systems and service at a fraction of the price if they could avoid being forced to take the service being offered by the State of North Dakota.  Mr. Johnson noted that it is regularly “four or five days” before anyone from ITD can resolve their telecommuni-cations problems right now.  They anticipate the Veteran’s Home will receive much better service from the independent telecommunications companies of North Dakota and desire to have a working relationship with them.  The Veteran’s Home has been working extensively with representatives of Dickey Rural Networks and BEK to meet their telecom needs.

The Association also testified before the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee regarding the merits of Senate Bill 2040.  The legislation creates a sales and use tax exemption for equipment used in telecommunications infrastructure development.  We told members of the committee that infrastructure development was essential, particularly in rural North Dakota, if our State’s residents were to continue to enjoy the full benefits of the economic and educational opportunities available with access to high-speed broadband.  There were some difficulties with the fiscal note that accompanied the proposal and the Association is working with other members of the telecommunications industry, the Public Service Commission and the State’s Tax Department to resolve those issues before returning to the Finance and Tax Committee with an amendment.

To call your legislator toll free the number is 1-888-635-3447.  Bismarck-Mandan residents should call 328-3373.

 

HB 1054- A bill that directing the State’s Adjutant General to study next generation 911 on the public safety answering points in North Dakota.  Specifically, the language requires a study of the technology needs relating to next generation 911, the most efficient method of implementing the new technology and exploring the use of shared technologies.  The measure also questions whether there need to be any changes to the current 911 funding model.

Jan. 6 Introduced in House.
Jan. 8 Political Subdivisions Committee Hearing.
   

 

 



HB 1135-
A measure that expands the powers of the Emergency Services Communications Coordinating Committee.  The three-person committee has representatives from the North Dakota 911 Association, Association of Counties and State Radio.  The bill provides that the committee will also “serve as the governmental body for coordinating plans and implementing emergency 011 services and internet protocol enabled emergency networks.”

Jan. 6 Introduced in House.
Jan. 16 Political Subdivisions Committee Hearing.
   


HB 1142- A bill that would abolish the $1.00 cap for E 911 services that currently exists in the State.   The proposal also removes the requirement that counties receive permission to reauthorize the surcharge every six years.

Jan. 14

Introduced in House.  Referred to Political Subdivisions Committee.

   


HB 1175- Legislation introduced at the request of the State’s Department of Human
Services that will allow the agency access to the databases of private industry, including independent telecommunications companies, for the purpose of searching for the names of both those that owe child support and those that are to receive it.   As you will recall, representatives of the Department of Human Services made a presentation to attendees of the Association’s Summer Conference in Fargo last July on the subject.   Despite the idea’s many proponents, there is a concern the language in the bill may conflict with aspects of the Federal CPNI rules telcos currently are forced to recognize.

Jan. 6

Introduced in House.  Referred to Transportation Committee.

   


HB 1208-
A bill that will provide penalties for “texting” while operating a motor vehicle.  The proposal prohibits drivers from composing, reading or sending “electronic messages” while driving.  The legislation does not ban or restrict voice communications.  It does, though, specifically target e-mail, text messages, an instant message or accessing the world wide web.  The first violation would result in a 2 point penalty, while a second and subsequent violations are 4 point violations.

Jan. 4

Introduced in House. 

Jan. 22 Transportation Committee Hearing – 9:30 a.m. in Lewis and Clark Room.
   


HB 1353-
An initiative introduced at the request of Qwest Communications that will require political subdivisions to hold a preliminary design meeting with utilities whenever the company has to identify or relocate the underground facilities.  Language within the bill would make the political subdivision liable for the costs to the utility of relocating if the government failed to give the utility notice of a meeting or fails to hold the meeting. Reportedly, the political subdivisions are unhappy with the legislation.

Jan. 12

Introduced in House.  Referred to Political Subdivisions Committee.

   


SB 2003-The appropriations bill for North Dakota’s university system.  The measure includes specific language reducing the funding of Northern Tier Network from its $2.7 million level in 2007 to no dollars in the 2009-2011 biennium.  However, in Section 6 of the legislation there is a provision giving the Board of Higher Education quite a bit of discretion in spending over $30 million in technology projects.

Jan. 6 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 12 Appropriations Committee Hearing.
   


SB 2021-The bill is the Information Technology Department’s (ITD) appropriations bill.   Of particular interest to members of the Association is ITD’s request for “one-time funding” in the amount of $1.2 million for increased bandwidth for K-12 institutions.

Jan. 6 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 9 Appropriations Committee Hearing.
   


SB 2040-
A measure to provide a sales and use tax exemption for equipment used in telecommunications infrastructure development.  Specifically, it will allow for gross receipts from sales of tangible personal property used exclusively in expanding or constructing telecommunications service infrastructure in the State are exempt from taxes under NDCC 57-39.2.  The Association and others from the telcom industry testified in favor of the measure.  We are currently working with the Tax Department to narrow the focus of the bill.

Jan. 6 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 13 Finance and Taxation Committee Hearing.
   


SB 2093-A measure to provide a sales and use tax exemption for equipment used in telecommunications infrastructure development.  Specifically, it will allow for gross receipts from sales of tangible personal property used exclusively in expanding or constructing telecommunications service infrastructure in the State are exempt from taxes under NDCC 57-39.2.

Jan. 6 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 12 Finance and Taxation Committee Recommended “Do Pass”, 7-0.
Jan.14 House Passed 46-0.
   


SB 2133-Legislation that permits the North Dakota Veteran’s Home in Lisbon to purchase telecommunications services from the private sector.  The Veteran’s Home would like an exemption from North Dakota law requiring that State agencies and offices receive their telecom from the Information Technology Department.

Jan. 6 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 15 Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.
   


SB 2142-Language the modified the powers and duties of the Information Technology Department (ITD) and modifies the “required use” and information technology plan policies.  Of particular concern to the Association is a provision within the proposal that will exempt institutions of higher education from  ITD review of 1) project descriptions;  2) project objectives; 3) business needs; 4) cost-benefit analysis; 5) project risks; 6) information summarizing project objectives achieved; 7)project budget and schedule variances; and, 8) lessons learned regarding any major information technology project.

Jan. 6 Introduced to Senate.
Jan. 9 Political Subdivisions Committee Hearing.