Bills and the ideas that spawn them begin to pop up in unlikely places when legislative sessions get to the later stages such as we are now in. These are ideas championed by lawmakers who will not give up, the ones that keep watchers hoping and hopping. There are supposed standards for germane-ness, like that an item introduced as an amendment onto a budget bill should be related to that agency or program, but it is often ignored. This ability for resurrection when others think the issued is dead results in outrage, incredulousness and everything in between. Even seasoned lobbyists can be blindsided, so mistrust and paranoia are part of the deal.
Here is the latest from the Capitol from this Monday and Tuesday (all of the following are still in conference committees):
The Industrial Commission budget bill has the State Mill and Elevator in its portfolio and the issue we are following concerns the amount of profit that the state will let the Mill keep as well as an incentive program for their employees.
The Water Commission budget has some left; part of it is how they bunch or group the money for dispersal. Rural Water wants to be in their own bunch or bucket so that they have more control over their dollars. For instance, if they were in the bucket with flood protection, the flood people might take more. The other part is funding for the Red River Water Supply project with lots of folks affected including the Garrison Diversion Authority.
Many in all of our communities are up against it from time to time and they turn to County Social Services for assistance. As you know, the State has mandated many of the services and enough believe that unfunded mandates should be funded by the people that order it done, so there is a bill for the state to pay that part. Now the two chambers are arguing over just how much to pay.
The Public Service Commission budget bill is still struggling with the money concerning how to fund at the proper level since HB1126 failed. The discussion reminds me of talking with my dad back in grade school when I would try to explain why I did not understand algebra when he did. After a few attempts, my guess is it will be settled on the next try.
And because farmers occasionally find need for mechanics, we are following the budget for Career and Technical Education. The conferees today were trying to decide if job training programs in ND Job Service and Operation Intern, which might be somewhat overlapping or redundant, had been reduced or eliminated so they could figure out at which level to fund the budget in their committee. More info tomorrow.
On the topic of wind tower light mitigation (so that all those towers need not be so bright all the time), an agreement was reached whereby the technology that can dim or brighten lights according to conditions can be installed. It was hung up on the idea that an older wind farm might have trouble meeting timelines and they reached agreement with the PSC being able to grant extensions after a public hearing.