Legislative Update

Terry B. Jones

District 4 Representative

Hello from New Town, 5/1/2021

We finished up on Thursday night at 12:30 (am Friday).  This session has been unique.  I am so glad that we were able to have the session in person even with the concerns surrounding COVID.  A lot of the work and education is accomplished through the close interaction with fellow legislators.  Because we didn’t have full interaction with the lobbyists during the 2021 session, and because we were adjusting to having a lot of our testimony using technology, it did seem to me like we were working with one hand tied behind our backs.

If you were watching some of the sessions online, you might have noticed that I had a glass bowl that I kept full of M&M’s, jellybeans, and other candies for the legislative body.  The bowl was no accident.  

During the campaign, I was accused of not being a North Dakota resident.  I had to establish for the ND Supreme Court and the ND District Court that I truly was a resident of North Dakota.  (It was kind of fun)  I have had a driver’s license here in North Dakota since 2013.  I have paid taxes in North Dakota since 2015.  I bought a house in New Town in 2020.  (My wife and I have been working diligently to remodel it ourselves.)  Towards the end of gathering all the evidence to establish our residency, my wife came up with the idea of showing the receipts for gas, groceries, supplies, etc.  This was the clincher because it showed that we were not only technically residents of ND but that we were spending our time and money in North Dakota.  

My attorney (Monte Rogneby) did an excellent job representing me in front of Supreme Court. The Supreme Court themselves were superb in how they handled and ruled on the case. I especially appreciated the fact that even though the democrats had sued the Secretary of State, the Supreme Court in their wisdom made them ask me to be involved so I could defend myself.  The whole experience took about 10 days and cost just over $10,000.  

The republican Caucus was notified of what had happened and my colleagues chipped in over $7,000 to help me cover the legal costs.  I appreciate all of my fellow legislators who so generously gave to help me in a time of need. I therefore determined I was going to have a bowl of candy on my desk available to all those colleagues to show my gratitude for their help. 

When I first put the bowl on the desk, I warned my colleagues that it was sugar and that sugar weakens the immune system.  Because of the COVID pandemic, they needed their immune system to be strong and healthy to ward off illness.  I told them specifically they were eating the candy at their own risk.  The bowl of candy during the session was affectionately referred to as a ‘COVID distribution center’.  This is one of the reasons why I am especially grateful that during the session we did not have a large number of our body or staff become ill with COVID.

Last night we had our District 4 reorganization meeting.  I was pleased to see over 40 people in attendance. The conversation was great. The food was great.  Even though we as legislators were chastised for not reducing government and taxes, our organization was re-elected in their respective positions and the body gave us as legislators a commendation for our service.

In the final night of the session I visited with the head of the Appropriations Committee about North Dakota’s budget we were passing for this session.  He informed me that we had increased the general fund spending by 3%, which is in line with inflation.  He did say that there was quite a bit of COVID funds coming in from the Federal Government that we were spending on top of that increase.  

Because of the Federal Dollars coming in and favorable projections for income in North Dakota in the foreseeable future, the effort to reduce spending and reduce government could not gain enough traction to be accomplished.  I suspect by next session there will be more of an appetite to reduce Government and our spending.  I am concerned about the negative impact the policies coming out of Washington, DC will have on North Dakota’s economy in the next few years.

We saved 4 of the 80 days we are allotted for meeting as a legislature per biennium.  These days can be used to deal with veto over-rides and to deal with budget issues that may come up during the interim.  

I appreciate the opportunity to serve District 4.  I thank you for electing me to this position.  I especially thank those that communicated with me during the session to help guide my decisions and votes. 

I also would like to thank my Republican Colleagues in the legislature for their leadership and help in dealing with the people’s business here in North Dakota.  

Rep. Clayton Fegley, Sen. Jordan Kannianen, myself, and Dist. 4 leadership will continue to send updates through the interim.  I have enjoyed writing these updates and continue to look forward to hearing from you as we move forward together in District 4.

As always please contact me if you have any questions or thoughts.  During the campaign we handed out fridge magnets with all of our phone numbers and emails.  If you did not receive one let me know and I will get one to you.

Terry B Jones  home 701.627.3397 cell 307.272.1915 email: [email protected]