2017 Victories From The North Dakota Legislature

Date: June 19, 2017

Property tax relief, electronic filing of UI information highlight accomplishments for small business

The 65th North Dakota Legislative Assembly adjourned April 27, 2017, with some big accomplishments for small business

Although the state budget was foremost in everyone’s mind, NFIB also succeeded in achieving the following for North Dakota small businesses.

Won Property Tax Relief
NFIB lobbied for the successful passage of Senate Bill 2206, which eliminates a sizable portion of county levy authority for human services (up to 20 “mills”) to provide property tax relief.

Over the last several biennia, lawmakers have been looking to identify areas for permanent property tax reform. Former Gov. Jack Dalrymple worked to push more state money into school districts to provide property tax relief. 

In addition, legislative leaders have looked into options to transfer the cost of social services from the counties to the state. With the passage of Senate Bill 2206, the state will assume costs statewide under a two-year pilot program in 2018 and 2019. Total appropriation for the two-year pilot is $160.7 million.

Defeated Minimum-Wage Increase
A perennial effort by cause groups or well-meaning lawmakers to raise the minimum wage occurs in every state legislature in the nation. A bid to not only increase North Dakota’s minimum-wage rate, but also empower the state labor commissioner to set future rates as he or she wanted, surfaced in the 2017 session of the Legislature.

NFIB/North Dakota helped defeat this bad idea by reminding lawmakers of what the minimum wage is and who it affects and doesn’t affect.

The minimum wage is earned by just 2.7 percent of the nation’s workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and most of them “tend to be young. Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the federal minimum wage or less. Among employed teenagers (ages 16 to 19) paid by the hour, about 10 percent earned the minimum wage or less, compared with about 2 percent of workers age 25 and older.”

In short, the minimum wage is an entry level wage earned mostly by teenagers and young adults still living at home. Increases in the minimum wage have only one major effect—eliminating entry-level jobs. Despite these facts, proponents of ever-increasing rates wrongly argue that they’re needed to lift people out of poverty, even though little to no evidence back it up.

Smoothed Unemployment Insurance Filings
NFIB/North Dakota helped pass a measure allowing for the electronic filing of employer unemployment contribution and wage reports, making this a much more effective and efficient process for all.

Streamlined Definition of a Primary Sector Business
For both employers and the government, a primary sector business is needed for tax and regulatory compliance, but North Dakota had a crazy quilt of definitions. With support from NFIB, legislation clarifying the definition of a primary sector business passed.

Protected Private Property Rights
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows government to take private property for public use, but only with payment of “just compensation.” But in 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a controversial decision, in Kelo v. City of New London, which held that local governments can use eminent domain to take private property—even if they simply intend to hand the land over to private developers, seeking to advance private profit interests.

In a 5-4 decision, the Kelo court ruled in favor of the City of New London; however, the states still retain the prerogative to provide added protections for landowners against these sort of “redevelopment” takings, whether by statute or through enforcement of more protective state constitutional standards. NFIB/North Dakota worked diligently for a new law that limits local water-resource districts from abusing their eminent domain privilege by requiring county commissions, as well, to approve property takings. That way, elected officials share in the decision made by the unelected appointees of various governmental bodies.

 

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