Murphy’s Law 2019 #18

March 8, 2019

This morning was spent listening to the back and forth on 1467 which is about transferring grain licensing duties from the PSC to the Agriculture Department. A frustrated PSC Commissioner Randy Christmann maintains that his agency has been hamstrung when it comes to looking at financial records –a key part of evaluating licensing – even though he has been asking for the ability to require them three sessions in a row. Senator Klein admitted in the Ag committee today that the Legislature has not been forthcoming in that regard. North Dakota has higher bonding requirements than any of our neighbors, so raising those is not attractive. Grain Dealer executive Stu Letcher mentioned that perhaps the bonding needs to be with A rated bonding companies to have more assurance. To be clear, Commissioner Christmann is passionate about keeping this regulatory role but is even more insistent that no matter where it ends up, the process of licensing and grain inspection needs to get fixed. If you are a frequent reader of this space, you know there is a bill (2346) which includes some of those fixes such as more FTEs and a different formula for the indemnity fund with an opt – out provision which has worked in Indiana. Sponsor Representative Dennis Johnson thinks that perhaps the Agriculture department could attempt to model the grain licensing program after their livestock program and that was echoed by the Ag Commissioner. Everyone mentioned so far with the exception of Mr. Letcher said that to be successful, the inspection and licensing needs more financial information. However, the Grain Dealers representative said he is sticking to his guns in resisting that as he has since the 2015 session. Also, that some states have abandoned financial reporting altogether as it is only a snapshot in time and does not necessarily reflect how stable an entity is. It is a thorny issue with many facets and I will try to keep you apprised.