TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published February 25 2013
Lawmakers propose direct payments to ND residentsBISMARCK – With the state’s coffers flush with money, some believe direct payments to residents may be the best way to provide tax relief.
But the North Dakota Constitution stands in the way of the Legislature directly allocating state funds to residents.
Under two House concurrent resolutions offered by Dickinson Rep. Vicky Steiner and Rolla Rep. Marvin Nelson, both Republicans, if North Dakota voters said “yes” to a ballot initiative, the Legislature would cut them a check based off a certain distribution formula.
Steiner told the House Judiciary Committee on Monday that the idea for the resolution came from a constituent and mimics Alaska’s system of reimbursements they have had in place since 1982.
To be eligible, an individual would have to live in the state for at least one year. Alaska’s law requires a resident to file paperwork if they are gone for more than 90 days. If gone more than 180 days, they would lose their eligibility unless they show an intention of moving back, Nelson said.
Full-time students and members of the military are exempt from Alaska’s law.
No specifics about eligibility were offered in the resolution.
Nelson’s resolution has one provision different than Steiner’s that would make broad-based payments and ensure that the state doesn’t limit who receives a payment under the proposed change.
State representatives decided Monday they want the university system chancellor to get approval from lawmakers before assessing universities to hire new staff.
House Bill 1281 was sent to the Senate by a 60 to 33 vote.
The bill was introduced to address concerns over the internal auditor and compliance positions hired by the chancellor last year to help with issues facing Dickinson State University.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Heilman, R-Fargo, said the chancellor’s decision was not transparent enough, but he said he wasn’t arguing whether it was right or wrong. “It’s what they decided to do,” he said.
Rep. Schatz, R-New England, said the bill imposes too much regulation on the chancellor’s office.
Senate lawmakers sent a bill to the House that would penalize a caretaker who doesn’t report their child missing in a designated time.
Senate Bill 2125 received a 44-3 vote.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tyler Axness, D-Fargo, would require a caretaker to report a child who is under 13 years old. The caretaker would face a Class C felony, punishable with a maximum five years in jail, a $5,000 fine or both, if they willfully or negligently fail to report the child missing immediately after 24 hours. Caretakers of a child that is 13 to 17 would be required to report them missing after 48 hours or face a class B misdemeanor, punishable with a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.
The bill defines a caretaker as an individual who is responsible for the physical control of a child and who is the child’s biological or adoptive parents, their spouse, or an individual acting in the stead of a child’s parent.
Divorce bill fails
Lawmakers said requiring a couple seeking a divorce to go through six months of counseling for the betterment of their children was, “not a practical solution,” and voted down the proposal, 45-48, that was in House Bill 1423.
Before it was killed, it was amended to mandate an educational program for a couple to address the impact the divorce would have on a child.
Rep. Gary Paur, R-Gilby, said parents become so wrapped up in the divorce process they begin to ignore their children.
The bill would have helped the children since, “the divorce becomes less heated as more concern is shown towards the children,” he said urging a “yes” vote.
Rep. Gail Mooney, D-Cummings, called the idea, “disturbing.”
“Having never walked in their shoes, it’s hard for us to say unequivocally that we know what’s best for them.”