Murphy’s Law #17

March 14, 2017

Since I last blogged, Thursday and Friday happened. On Thursday, commodity groups lined up to testify against HB1282. It was held in a larger room which was a good thing. Many of the NDSGA board members were there, with President Craig Olson standing up for our group. Craig used some impromptu humor to give the room a needed laugh and around 3:00 p.m. the hearing ended with the Ag Commissioner speaking in a neutral position. Chairman Luick took no action. It appeared to me that the groups made a solid case against approving the bill, but Senator Luick said he wanted to hear from the Atty. General first. We may see a committee recommendation next Thursday.
At the weekly 7:00 a.m.Thursday morning Ag Coalition breakfast, NB1282 sponsor Rep. Brandenburg said little about that bill and spoke of the bill splitting out the Environmental Division from the Dept. of Health which is SB2327. He talked about getting a total of three (up from one) Ag. Representatives on the new board should the split occur. That will be heard in Senate Energy and Natural Resources at 8:00 a.m. Thursday in Coteau A. One argument I have heard about the reasoning for splitting it out is to get back primacy. So I called the head of the division of Water Quality at Department of Health (DOH) and he told me where water is concerned, ND has primacy in all areas outside of some solid waste issues. We do not have primacy in terms of Air Quality. Basically, primacy refers to the idea on whose responsibility first falls. Simply, we as a state need to do a good job of environmental stewardship or the Feds will do it their way. So with water issues, be it tiling or drainage, for instance, we need to do things correctly so as not to lose our right to do it our way. I am not an attorney, but this is what I understood to be the case.
We heard HB1390, the House Tiling Bill in Senate Ag on Friday. I spent the morning watching as most of the water world (Water Commission, Water Users, Rural Water, Water Resource Districts and the Water Quality division of the DOH as well as the Grain Growers and Soybean Growers testified. While all spoke in favor of the bill, everyone seemed to have a section or three that they would like to have amended. To complicate things, the Senate bill, SB2263, is alive in the House and while they may be merged together, no one knows what would get merged nor which version will emerge. SB2263 gets heard next Thursday in House Ag at 9. Expect a crowd.
Both Quick Take bills (SB2047 and HB1244) have crossed over and I discussed them in Blog #15. No change yet on their status. Like the Tiling bills, when there are two different bills with the same topic, something has to change. Usually, one needs to be killed with perhaps whatever strikes the committees as redeeming qualities may be blended into the other. Obviously, even the decided upon survivor needs to pass each house or chamber in identical language or it cannot go to the Governor to be signed. A law cannot have conflicting language. That is what the last 3 weeks of the session are for – Conference Committees. In those, anything can happen.