Finance and Tax on the House side heard testimony on HB1080 which is about oil and gas companies paying what is owed to our State Trust Lands Department. The Department had made the news in the past year for what some companies had said was too onerous a penalty when catching up after not paying fully what was owed. Testimony indicated they could add a charge of up to 30 percent for penalties, while the Department testified that they usually charge 4 percent over prime interest rate. This will go back and forth during the session, but whatever is paid goes into a fund that provides money to our schools. From a producer’s standpoint, most of these school lands are pasture, but some are tillable.
The Grain Warehouse Licensing bill is HB1026 and as mentioned often in this space is the effort between the regulator (now the North Dakota Department of Agriculture) and the regulated (elevators, brokers, grain dealers). They have agreed on almost all points and the hearing went well for the most part. You can look at the video of this and any bill by going to the ND Legislative Branch and then look up at the brown banner and all the way to the right click on video. It will show what is and was up for that day and previous days. Once a committee is done, one can go back and replay whichever part you wish.
The main message from the recent Ag Coalition meetings emphasized reaching out to legislators (please!) and asking them to support the bonding and revolving loan funds programs sponsored by the Legislature and Governor. They have earmarks for the Ag Products Development Center, transportation and water amongst other needs. Trying to get the NDSU Extension and Research budget back to even after the 15 percent reduction in the Governor’s budget is another priority for producers.