Legislative Update

Jordan Kannianen

District 4 Senator

Greetings and good day,

The Senate Finance & Tax Committee had a good hearing on HB 1425, which proposes to invest up to 20% of Legacy Fund principal within the state of North Dakota. 10% would be in fixed-income investments (the Bank of ND has already begun the CD Match program, for example), and 10% would be in equities (the venture capital crowd is excited about the possibilities). The State Investment Board currently utilizes 32 different fund managers to administer and invest different portions of the Legacy Fund principal, and this bill would call for a 33rd to be brought in. The prudent investor rule would also be amended in order to give North Dakota financial institutions an automatic seat at the table (avoiding any question, especially since the Legacy Fund has no liabilities like a pension fund has). If passed, the in-state investing would be a slow, deliberate process following standard due diligence. It wouldn’t mandate any particular investment, and the board would not make a bad in-state investment just to do it. It simply expands the existing CD Match program through the state, provides for low-interest loans to political subdivisions, and provides for equity investing. The rates of return on in-state equity investments would still have to meet the ones earned currently in other investments (following a 5-year rolling average). It was noted in committee that surveys show over 3/4 of North Dakotans are in favor of investing some of the Legacy Fund within the state. The committee has yet to take action.

HB 1082 has been passed, which requires electronic filing and payments for all business tax filings and returns. Two years ago businesses with 10 or more employees were required to do so, and now all businesses will fall under this requirement. The State Tax Department isn’t penalizing anyone for not falling into compliance but is working with them. The same will hold true for the expanded electronic requirement. 

Of the dozen or so non-profit agencies that offer services to senior citizens (Meals on Wheels, transit, health consulting, etc.), some are exempt from the payment of sales and use taxes because they’re under a political subdivision, while others are not exempt because they’re independent. HB 1351 was passed to eliminate this patchwork and allow all to be tax exempt regardless of their affiliations with Political Subs. They all receive funding from the same sources and provide the same services, and they’re all under the oversight of the Dept. of Human Services. The tax committee saw this as a very small impact on the state (maybe a couple thousand dollars) with a potentially large benefit to these organizations and to seniors. The example given in committee is that even a couple thousand dollars could mean an extra thousand meals. 

I want to congratulate all teams within legislative District 4 on a great basketball season, especially the Kenmare girls on their 6th place finish at state and the White Shield boys on their 2nd place finish at regions. And, what a career by Jesse White, finishing with over 2,700 points – 2nd all time in the history of the state. 

Have a great week!