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Janell Cole, Published January 29 2009

Job Service North Dakota can sell two of its offices

BISMARCK – The state House has OK’d two bills that allow Job Service North Dakota to sell its office buildings in Jamestown and Grafton.

Both buildings are much larger than necessary now, said Rep. Karen Karls, R-Bismarck, in explaining the bills to the House.

The Grafton Job Service office has two employees, down from the peak of nine in 1990, she said. The Jamestown Job Service office is a building from the 1940s and the agency has already moved out of it already, she said.

The bills are House Bill 1117 and House Bill 1118.

More teacher pay sought

A bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Griffin, D-Larimore, would offer North Dakota property taxpayers an additional $60 million in property tax relief and $40 million more to boost teacher pay.

Griffin said the $100 million is just a different use of the same $100 million that Gov. John Hoeven has already proposed in his budget to be used for income tax relief.

The bill is House Bill 1565. Dakota Draper, president of the North Dakota Education Association, said that while the state’s teachers appreciate legislators’ and Hoeven’s efforts the past eight years to boost teacher pay in the state, North Dakota is still 50th among all the states plus the District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, he said. Wyoming has used its mineral tax wealth to boost its teacher pay to 16th in the country, up from 36th place in 2002-03.

The committee took no immediate action.

Senate kills PSC bill

The Senate on Wednesday killed a bill that would have allowed the state Public Service Commission to charge utilities for the cost of pipeline investigations even if no safety or law violation is found.

The Senate voted 42-4 against Senate Bill 2138, despite the PSC’s arguments that utilities should pay to find out if something went wrong with their system.

State law already allows the PSC to charge companies for investigations when violations are discovered.

Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, said the proposal was not fair and if the PSC needs funds to do testing, it should get the money from the Legisla-ture’s appropriations process or use funds it collects from companies that do have violations.

Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net