Murphy’s Law 2019 #6

January 22, 2019

On Friday I listened in to Senate Energy and Natural Resources as they entertained discussion on #2174. That is the bill that calls for Water Resource District (WRD) board members to be elected rather than appointed by County Commissioners as they are now. Having experience both as a township officer and senator with assessment drain hearings, I recognize how intense (tense!) these affairs can be out in the areas seeking drainage. The prime sponsor and two others got up to testify that those board members should be elected, that this is a democracy we live in and that appointed board members have no accountability. That was disputed by the many testifying in opposition who stated that County Commissioners can and do remove WRD board members on occasion. If the position were elected, some said only those with an axe to grind would run. To a man, the WRD board members who testified stated that they would not run for the board, that it is a difficult position whereby they have to deal with people who are angry about WRD decisions and that they need to have a thick hide at times. The appointment is therefore often difficult to accept let alone taking the time and incurring the expense to run a campaign. The landowners and producers are asking for a drainage assessment to get the project built – literally taxing themselves by voting for the project. In this kind of democratic proceeding, those on the losing end may nurse what they see as an injustice. The committee took no action.
On Monday I sat in on 1106 which is a reinsurance program promoted by the Insurance Commissioner. It would reduce an individual’s health insurance by about 20 percent, but it carries about a $38 million cost that is a problem. I also listened to a slew of property tax bills all of which I heard were later given a Do Not Pass recommendation for a number of reasons. Today I spent the morning waiting to testify in opposition to a bill which would have eliminated the quick take rules which were modified last session to the favor of any disgruntled landowner. HB 1184 was opposed by the Association of Counties, Rural Water Users, Airport authorities, the DOT, WRDs and others who explained that this Quick Take protocol has evolved over the years as a dispute resolution tool which is used only as a last resort.