Legislators busy working to serve Districts 10, 19
BISMARCK – The new biennium for the North Dakota Legislature has been in session for a little more than three weeks. Some familiar and new faces are busy working for the best of their constituents and the state as a whole.
With re-districting, newly elected Senator Tom Campbell of Grafton is representing District 19 which includes eastern Walsh and a majority of western Grand Forks County including Larimore and Northwood. Serving their second terms in the House of Representatives, but their first terms for District 19 are Wayne Trottier and Gary Paur.
Joe Miller is in his second term in the Senate representing the newly formed District 10 which includes western Walsh County including Park River Edingurg and Adams as well as Pembina County and parts of Cavalier County. He was most recently the District 16 senator. District 10’s Representatives are David Monson of Edinburg and Chuck Damschen of Hampden.
Tom Campbell is serving his first term in public office as State Senator. Campbell said he’s determined to reach across party lines, even though the Republicans have a supermajority in the House and Senate.
“It’s not like it’s us versus them,” he said last Thursday at the capitol. “We have a good rapport. We’re working for the common good of the state.”
As a Republican, Campbell said it’s his duty to listen to his Democratic constituents and the same goes for the legislators who are Democrats.
Campbell said his first few weeks have been a great experience.
“I love it, but there’s a lot to learn and take in. It’s like taking a drink of water out of a fire hose,” he said.
Campbell said he’s been focusing on the bills within his committees and those that constituents ask him about. On other bills he is less familiar with, he relies on the vote from the various committees.
Campbell is a member of two committees. He is the Vice Chairman of the Finance and Taxation Committee and a member of the Transportation Committee.
Campbell said property taxes and high taxable valuation of agricultural land continues to be a concern. He said although there was $341 million in tax relief in the last biennium, for many, their tax liability went up because of increased valuation of their land.
He expects more legislation to be introduced concerning property tax relief.
As far as transportation and infrastructure, Campbell said that Gov. Jack Dalyrmple is committed to infrastructure needs throughout the state, not only in the oil producing counties, and that the eastern part of the state won’t be left behind.
Both Paur and Trottier are serving their second terms as representatives in District 19, which now includes the eastern half of Walsh County.
Paur is on the Judicial Committee and the Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.
Paur said some of the bills that will be getting press coming out of the Judicial Committee will concern gun legislation, some of it spurred by the recent school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
“Some of the bills are ‘knee jerk’ in some ways, but none of the bills we’ve seen so far are limiting gun ownership,” he said.
According to Paur, some of the bills he’s heard testimony on in committee include those removing restrictions for concealed gun permits and whether or not to allow concealed weapons in schools and churches.
Paur’s other committee appointment is to the Government and Veteran’s Affairs Committee. He said the most contentious issues in that committee will most likely deal with government employees and teacher’s retirement issues.
Trottier is also on the Finance and Taxation Committee. He said reducing the tax burden on North Dakota citizens will take front stage this session.
Trottier said as of last Thursday, different entities in the state had already asked for $2.3 billion in reductions for sales and income tax. He said he expects property taxes, most notably a reduction in them, will be one of the major discussions this session.
Trottier said he’s inclined to think that property tax relief would help a wider segment of the population. He also said there are bills concerning corporate tax relief in the state as well.
“Currently they (corporations) are paying a lot of tax into the state of North Dakota and we’ve got the surplus,” he said. “They’ve paid into the surplus, is my thought. We’ll hear some other testimony, but talk is about lowering corporate tax by 10 or 15 percent.”
Trottier said that lowering the corporate tax would make it more attractive for businesses to locate in North Dakota.
Trottier’s other committee appointment is to the Agriculture Committee. He said no major issues in that committee have come up early in the session.
As with all committees, Trottier said the first couple of weeks have dealt with minor bills and housekeeping issues. In the coming weeks the more substantive issues, like property tax relief and infrastructure needs will be addressed.
Republican Joe Miller of Park River is serving his second term in the Senate in newly redistricted District 10. He served in District 16 last session.
Miller is the chairman of the Agriculture Committee and Vice Chairman of the Information and Technology Committee.
Republican Representative David Monson of Osnabrock has been a member of the House since 1993. His interim committee memberships include the Administrative Rules Committee, Budget Section and Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee. He is also a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Vice Chairman of the Education and Environment Division of Appropriations.
Republican Chuck Damschen of Hampden has been a member of the House since 2005.
He is a member of the Legislative Management Committee and well as Vice Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Human Services Committee.