VOLUME 13, NUMBER 4             January 30, 2009


To: Members

From: David Crothers, Executive Vice President

This week concluded the introduction of legislation in the Sixty-First Legislative Assembly.  Following Monday’s deadline for Senators to introduce bills, only measures approved by the Delayed Bills Committee can be brought before the assembly.  The House of Representatives saw 576 bills and 34 House Concurrent Resolutions introduced.  It represents an increase of 50 bills more than the 2007 session.  Senators introduced 440 bills and 13 resolutions, an increase of 21 bills.  Senators have until Monday to introduce Senate Concurrent Resolutions.

As many speculated, there are a tremendous number of spending proposals before the legislature, as well as tax exemptions being considered during this session.  In fact, legislators were told last week that they had introduced legislation calling for State spending in excess of $800 million more than Governor Hoeven’s recommended budget.

Also of concern to the Association this week is the development of “Stimulus Packages” being passed by our nation’s legislature.  Broadband provisions in the House measure call for $6 billion in grants, while the Senate package proposes $9 billion in grants to a variety of entities.  The Senate version calls for half of the money to be spent in rural areas in the United States.   In addition, there is approximately $1 billion available for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s broadband program.

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. 16 Political Subdivisions Committee Recommended “Do Not Pass”, 8-5.
Jan. 21 Defeated 43-48.
   

 

 




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.

Jan. 28 Human Services Committee Hearing.
   


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. 8

Introduced in House. 

Jan. 22 Transportation Committee Hearing.
   


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.

   


HB 1518-
Legislation that directs all telecommunications taxes collected by the State of North Dakota to the counties.  Currently, the counties receive $8.4 million annually from the account funded by the gross receipts tax paid by the telecom companies operating in North Dakota.   The current law was established in 1997 when lawmakers consolidated all of the different tax formulas imposed upon telephone companies into a single 2.5 percent gross receipts tax.  At that time, the counties were guaranteed by statute that they would never lose any money under the new formula.  Although the Association does not yet know how much is collected by the State’s imposition of a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax, it is anticipated to be substantially more than the $8.4 million.  Our concern, of course, is that there are no proposals to raise the 2.5 percent level.

Jan. 19

Introduced in House.  Referred to Political Subdivisions Committee.

Jan. 30 Political Subdivisions Committee Hearing.
   


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.
Jan. 15 Received from Senate.
   


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. 27 Political Subdivisions Committee Recommended “Do Pass”, 6-0.
Jan.28 Senate Passed 46-0.
   


SB 2332-
A bill that creates a Health Information Technology Office and an Advisory Committee.  The new Health Information Technology Office and Health Information Advisory Committee will be responsible for making recommendations enabling implementation of a statewide interoperable health information infrastructure that is consistent with emerging national standards.   The Health Information Technology Office is also charged with promoting the adoption and use of electronic health records and other health information technologies, as well as promoting interoperability of health information systems.   The legislation also repeals the existing Health Information Technology Steering Committee.  The bill has an appropriation of $5,923,572 for the biennium.

Jan. 20 Introduced to Senate.
Jan. 27 Human Services Committee Hearing.