District 4 Senator
Friends, family and neighbors of District 4,
The legislative session is drawing to a close We should wrap up by the 28th or 29th, depending on how the last few sticky issues go in conference committee.
The budget of the State Water Commission has been passed, as well as a bonding bill that funds the remainder of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project ($435 million) and a portion of the Mouse River Diversion Project ($74.5 million).
By bonding the diversion projects when interest rates are low, it allows them to be finished sooner (limited inflation costs in the future), and it frees up funding from the State Water Commission budget for other projects around the state. The Rural Water Supply line item is $59.6 million, which means several rural water expansion projects will happen across the state. Having been connected to rural water myself two years ago after nearly a decade on the list, I know firsthand the benefits of being connected. More and more rural residents of District 4 will have rural water over the next few years.
One of the issues that could cause the session to go a day or so longer is the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) bill, SB 2046. The original bill sought to raise the contribution requirement by 1% for both the employer and the employee in order to better shore up the fund (which is currently 68% funded). However, the House changed the bill to remove the political subdivisions from PERS (hence removing their liabilities) in order to shore up the fund. This is obviously not popular nor good for the 51 counties currently on the system, nor for the numerous municipalities and school districts, etc. This would require the aforementioned political subdivisions to figure out their own pension system (with built-in liabilities to begin), which would potentially cause property taxes to increase. The bill will be in conference committee this week.
HB 1323, which in its amended form bans statewide mask mandates, was approved after we overrode the Governor’s veto. This compromise does not restrict cities, counties, and school boards on this issue.
Have a great week, and I expect my next report to be an end-of-session report.
Jordan Kannianen, District 4 Session