VOLUME 15, NUMBER 1 January 18, 2013
From: David Crothers, Executive Vice President
The Sixty-Third Legislative Assembly has finished its first full week and legislation continues to be introduced. As of this morning, there were 334 bills that had been assigned bill numbers and 13 resolutions in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, 222 bills had been introduced along with 7 resolutions. The Association anticipates a substantial amount of legislation will be introduced today and Monday as deadlines approach for members to sponsor their measures.
Monday is the deadline for members of the House of Representatives to introduce legislation. After Monday, Senators are allowed five days to introduce a maximum of 3 more bills.
As predicted, there is a multitude of fiscal bills for this year’s legislative assembly. Many of the agency budgets have substantial increases. There are also numerous bills proposing to lower taxes for corporations, individuals, real estate, the oil industry and others, as well as the telecommunication industry’s initiative for a sales tax exemption when building out infrastructure. There are also proposals for substantial - very substantial - increases to “catch-up” funding for K-12, higher education and “oil country infrastructure”. Governor Dalrymple is proposing a Higher Education increase from $658 million to $912 million - a 38 percent increase - for the biennium.
The Association is still trying to determine exactly what legislation impacting the telecommunications companies of North Dakota will be introduced this session. As you will note in the following pages, we have highlighted a number of those bills. However, other legislation such as AT&T’s deregulation of VoIP services and a significant revision to North Dakota’s One-Call statutes are still forthcoming.
Finally, the Association has already shared a number of bills with the Legislative Committee appointed by the group’s board of directors at the annual meeting in early December. Members of the Legislative Committee include: Derrick Bulawa, BEK Communications; Paul Schuetzler, Consolidated Telcom and NTCA Region 6 director; Keith Larson, Dakota Central; Jeff Wilson, Dickey Rural Telephone; Ralph Greer, Dickey Rural Telephone; Tyler Kilde; MLGC; Hilman Anderson, Reservation; Stan Vangsness, SRT and NDATC president; Jim Newman, SRT and Bonnie Krause, West River Telecommunications. Members of the Association are extremely appreciative of their efforts.
Please contact me at any time regarding any of the legislation or any other matter of concern. I can be reached at work at 701-663-1099; cell: 701-471-3838 or email@example.com.
HB 1202- The legislation provides an exemption for emergency services, including Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP’s), from using the facilities provided by the State’s Information Technology Department (ITD). The bill is strongly supported by Century Link. The reason this issue has gotten so much attention is that Congress and the Federal Communications Commission have mandated that emergency providers migrate to an Internet Protocol (IP)-based technology that allows PSAP’s to receive voice, data and video transmissions. There is speculation that such a change would cause customers to move their traffic from existing circuits provided by local exchange carriers to the State’s network.
|Jan. 14||Introduced in House.|
|Jan. 14||Referred to Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.|
SB 2021- The bill is the Information Technology Department’s appropriations language, as well as a new provision requiring state agencies planning information technology projects in excess of $100,000 to include ITD in the planning of the initiative. Higher Education is exempt from the planning and approval requirement. The spending in North Dakota for ITD is significant. The agency spends some $171 million every biennium to operate the office and implement to new services. However, a reading of SB 2021 shows only an appropriation of $20 million. The reason is that ITD charges its “customers” such as the State agencies, counties, schools and others for their telecom services.
|Jan. 8||Introduced in Senate|
|Jan. 11||Appropriations Committee Hearing|
SB 2055-The legislation changes the way the Public Service Commission must deliver bills to telecommunications companies when hearings are held and the agency incurs expenses. The Commission has authority to bill telecom companies for their expenses when they hire experts, engineers, auditors and attorneys for complaints or conduct investigations. SB 2055 does not change the scope of the PSC’s authority, though. The bill simply eliminates the requirement that the agency deliver that invoice for expenses by certified mail and, instead, allows for electronic or paper mail. Because of the unique wording of the legislation, the Association has visited with PSC attorneys to confirm that telecommunications companies are not losing any of their rights to appeal invoices rendered by the agency. The PSC has confirmed that SB 2055 only removes the “certified mail” requirement. The Association will continue to attend the Committee hearings to ensure that no language added that will adversely affect the telecommunications industry.
|Jan. 8||Introduced in Senate.|
|Jan. 14||Natural Resources Committee recommended “Do Pass” 7-0.|
|Jan. 15||Senate Passed 46-0.|