Republicans scored big wins for our state this session. We addressed key issues that matter to all North Dakotans, including infrastructure funding, workforce development, human services and education. As we leave Bismarck, we are going home having balanced the budget with no tax increases.
Early in the session, we passed landmark legislation to fund infrastructure across our state. Oil country in the west, rapidly growing cities in the east and small rural towns in between all face significant infrastructure challenges. This money will help fund critical projects that need to be completed for communities across our state to continue growing and prospering and will reduce pressure on local property taxes.
A major legislative accomplishment was the beginning of our county social services redesign. This plan will eliminate 20 mills of levy authority in every county, resulting in permanent property tax reform. With this bill’s passage, we will be able to find efficiencies at all levels of human services while also reducing costs. This plan will also improve the quality of service and increase the speed at which those services are delivered at all access points. This bill has been years in the making and it is exciting that the bill will begin to be implemented by the end of this year.
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Our top priority, as always, is investing in our state’s greatest asset: our young people. We increased our per pupil payment, passed measures to improve school safety, and promoted stronger behavioral health initiatives in schools.
We also prioritized funding for those who care for our state’s elderly population, ensuring they can continue to provide quality care to our most vulnerable citizens. We responded to North Dakota’s addiction crisis by increasing access to behavioral health services. We passed several criminal justice reform bills that work together with these behavioral health efforts. By rethinking punishments for low-level offenses, we can steer people toward the treatment they need while preventing further overcrowding in our prisons.
Another historic piece of legislation coming out of this session is the tribal oil tax agreement with Mandan Hidatsa Arikara nation. The bill is a product of the interim tribal taxation committee which was composed of legislative, executive and tribal leaders. It rules out the possibility of double taxation and provides certainty to the industry so that they can invest more capital in North Dakota.
Republican leadership is proud of the work accomplished this session. We worked through nearly 1,000 bills and resolutions in just 76 days, saving four days should we need to address anything in the interim. We funded our priorities, balanced the budget, delivered property tax relief and addressed pressing issues. We are thankful for our legislators and the hard work done this session to make North Dakota an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
Pollert, R-Carrington, serves as majority leader in the North Dakota House of Representatives and Wardner, R-Dickinson, serves as majority leader in the North Dakota Senate.