NDAREC CONTINUES TO WORK AT STATE LEGISLATURE
As the work of the 66th Assembly of the North Dakota Legislature proceeds in 2019, the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) continues monitoring activities of the Legislature, on behalf of cooperatives and their members.
The month of April finds the Legislature involved primarily in the work of Senate-House conference committees. These committees will be working to reconcile differences in Senate and House versions of bills which have passed both bodies.
The biennial legislative sessions are limited to 80 days of legislative work. In 2019, that 80th day falls on Thursday, May 2.
“We express our gratitude to the leaders from our local electric cooperative network, who have added their voices to the communication we have undertaken with legislators, on bills of importance to us,” said Zachary Smith, NDAREC director of government relations and registered lobbyist.
During March, NDAREC was actively engaged in consideration of the following legislative measures:
■ HB 1362 – This House bill addresses a long-standing issue for utilities and others to obtain crossing permits in a timely, affordable manner from railroad operators in North Dakota. The bill creates a uniform policy for crossing railroad property that includes a $750 crossing fee, gives railroads a 35-day period to object to an application before a utility can proceed with work, and prohibits railroads from charging for use of public right of way. Without such uniformity, crossing of railroad property can lead to increased costs for customers and businesses and delays in the delivery or upgrade of services. NDAREC testified in support of HB 1362, alongside the Broadband Association of North Dakota and other utilities in the state.
■ SCR 4013 – This resolution requests the state of North Dakota to study the challenges facing rural groceries and the state’s potential role in the distribution and transportation of food to rural areas. If the study is adopted, recommendations would be provided to the 2021 Legislative Assembly. The study resolution comes largely from the work being done by NDAREC’s Lori Capouch and Mary Stumpf through the N.D. Rural Grocery Initiative. NDAREC supports the resolution and considers it important for the Legislature to study issues that address or seek to improve rural quality of life.
■ HB 1439 – This bill seeks to address the economic and technical challenges that are unique to capturing and deploying carbon dioxide from coal power plants to oil fields. HB 1439 expands the viability of traditional oil fields and positions carbon dioxide as an asset, rather than a liability. NDAREC supports this bill for the potential benefits it could provide Project Tundra (a major carbon capture project of Minnkota Power Cooperative and its partners) and other future carbon capture and sequestration projects.
During the legislative session, a legislator can be reached at the State Capitol by using the “Contact My Legislators” link: www.legis.nd.gov/contact-my-legislators; or by leaving a message with the legislative telephone message center at 1-888-NDLEGIS (635-3447) or 701-328-3373 (local).