North Dakota Legislature Early Wrap Up

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North Dakota’s legislature wrapped up their work a bit early for the 2015 session.

They closed the session Wednesday afternoon.

With the falling gas prices in recent months, new legislation passed by lawmakers eliminates a so called trigger tax break worth as much as $5 billion.

It’s a cut that Democrats and Republicans do not agree on.

Sen. Mac Schneider says, “That is a very big disappointment to many of the people that I represent. The fact that the majority would permanently reduce oil traction revenue by 23%.”

Rep. Jim Kasper says, “Now we’re going to have a stable oil price that we can budget on in the future and not have to worry about a trigger coming in.”

The 2015–2017 $14.4 billion budget was a huge topic specifically in the areas of Property Tax Relief and K–12 Funding.

Another topic that both sides do not agree on.

Schneider says, “The majority removed about a $115-million from the K-12 funding bill then enacted a $108-million cut to the corporate and personal income tax.”

Kasper says, “We believe we’d rather have the money in the hands of the people and businesses so they can hire more employees than giving it to the state.”

The sex trafficking bill is viewed as an accomplishment for all.

Schneider says, “Not only are you increasing penalties on pimps and traffickers but you’re also providing some funding to take care of victims.”

Kasper says, “We’re putting a lot of extra dollars into law enforcement out there to stop it.”

Both parties say that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable.

But Republicans defeated a sexual orientation anti–discrimination bill.

Schneider says, “Shows the GOP or majority is really out of step with the changing North Dakota. Discrimination is not a North Dakota value.”

Republican Representative Jim Kasper had his issues with the proposed sexual orientation anti–discrimination bill but believes this is not the end…it will be back.

Kasper says, “I don’t believe it was worded properly. I believe that everyone should have the same rights as anybody else.”

Kasper believes the legislature will meet again between now and July to wrap up unfinished legislation for the public workers health insurance plan.