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Legislative Session 2017
Senate Appropriations Testimony - January 17, 2017
House Appropriations Testimony - March 6, 2017
UND Insights Series
A summary of the 65th Legislative Session
Each biennium, North Dakota’s legislature sets to work on proposals for new legislation, and amending existing laws as well as carving out operating dollars for state agencies. With the North Dakota economy being heavily reliant upon the status of commodities, the slowing down of oil extraction in the Bakken and falling agricultural prices has made our state representatives’ job of balancing the budget a very difficult one. It should come as no surprise that North Dakota’s economic downturn has resulted in massive budget cuts.
As the 65th legislative session came to a close, the fiscal picture presented to higher education showed a reduction of State general fund dollars in the vicinity of $109 million for the State Board of Higher Education which is responsible for all eleven of the state’s public institutions and the Forest Service. For the University of North Dakota, we saw an overall reduction of approximately 15.4 percent of our general fund appropriated dollars. Our campus has worked through the process of reducing budgets using various methods including voluntary separations and phased retirements, reductions in force, reallocation of resources, program reductions and more.
In addition to wrestling with Appropriations, Senate and House representatives worked on a number of bills that impact higher education and UND either directly or indirectly – some of which passed, and some of which failed. Following is a very brief summary of some of the bills heard this session. If readers would like to explore any bills in further detail, the North Dakota Legislative Branch website is a comprehensive resource for actions taken as well as video snippets of the House and Senate floor sessions, amendments made and the final enrollment once a bill is signed by the Governor.
Some highlights of the Appropriations bill concerning UND include:
$2 million for Challenge grants ($200, 000 per institution; DSU and Medical School excluded)
- $2 million additional operating distributed to ten of the eleven institutions based on the formula. UND is set to receive approximately $763, 000. Dickinson State is funded elsewhere in the Bill.
- Tuition rate flexibility with 4% cap per year on resident tuition rates.
- Nickel Trophy – The Legislature would like UND and NDSU to play again for the Nickel Trophy or otherwise display the trophy in the Heritage Center in Bismarck.
- Donor records privacy – this section protects donor information from State audits
- Law enforcement officer tuition and fees waiver – 25% waiver
- Authority to sell Dakota Hall
- Authority to monetize Ray Richards Golf Course
- Consider a Legislative study of the relationship between UND and EERC. SBHE shall consider opportunities for collaboration on high-performance computing, data analytics, and connectivity to Minnesota research networks to improve access, increase capacity, and create efficiencies
- SBHE will study nursing programs at all institutions under its control
Academic & Research
The bill was written to put into code, the extension of benefits of free tuition for stepchildren of fallen peace officers killed in the line of duty.
This bill streamlined the scholarship requirement and clarified that students must be maintaining progress towards completion for ongoing eligibility.
Restructured the teacher loan forgiveness program to better attract teachers to rural ND schools. Two awards can be awarded per school district per year. Teachers may apply annually for up to $6,500 per year in loan forgiveness.
The original bill called for a substantial taskforce (approximately 30 members) that included a representative from UND's Social Work department. The amendment reduced the membership of this committee to six people, removing UND representation. The committee will create work groups that will include members with appropriate areas of expertise. The bill also provides for the provision of training for school teachers in the areas of bullying and youth suicide.
NDUS proposed this bill allowing for the confidentiality of research information until published and the protection of personally identifiable information related to a Title IX complaint or investigation.
Increases the membership of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences advisory board to 16 members, to include one member from the North Dakota Center for Nursing.
Compacts & Licensures
A number of professional licensure bills and compacts were introduced this session, allowing for streamlining of credentials and increasing flexibility of practice with professional supervision. The intent of streamlining credentials is to allow better movement of professionals into the state as well as increased opportunities for our graduates to other states within the multistate compact agreements.
The Senate amendment calls for keeping the criminal history record checks confidential and would not be available to the multistate licensing group.
Like HB1096, the criminal history record checks would remain confidential and would not be available to the multistate licensing group.
Language of the bill mirrors that of the other compact states.
The amended bill allows for the reciprocity of social workers, permitting social workers from out of state to be licensed by the board. The president of the ND Board of Social Workers and the Attorney General's office collaborated on the amendment.
The bill provides for the scope of practice and licensure authority of the board of addiction counseling examiners.
The bill allows for the licensure and regulation of SLPA providing for an expansion of speech-language services in the state.
The Attorney General's Open Meetings Taskforce proposed changes to legislation. These amendments include changes for the protection of witnesses, in keeping with newly enacted Marsey's Law; protection of a child's name whether victim or witness; public entities may ask that a request for information be put in writing for clarification, but not to use against the requestor; a public employee is not required to hand over their mobile device; requestors may utilize their own personal device for duplication of records subject to reasonable restrictions; redaction of personal information including medical information and public employee leave requests for which leave has not yet been taken.
Applications for public employment positions will remain confidential until applicant/s are designated as finalists at which time those records are open to the public. Positions that receive fewer than three applications that meet the minimum requirements will be considered open to the public.
Buildings & Infrastructure
The SBHE may now authorize campus improvements and building maintenance financed by donations, gifts, grants and bequests up to the value of $700, 000. Expenditures for construction of any building or any addition to a building above that figure require legislative approval.
Increases the level from $25,000 to $35,000 that exempts building projects from the bidding process.
This bill relates to an evidence-based education program and penalties for individuals under 21 years using alcohol or entering licensed premises, including early intervention, peer-to-peer and family-to-family programs.
This legislation underwent several amendments and additional language. The bill now includes the powers and duties of the peace officer standards and training (POST) board, definitions, limitation on use of juvenile confidential informants, limitations on campus police, establishment of rules pertaining to training and guidelines by the POST board, agreement requirements, and more.
The bill permits an individual to store a firearm or other dangerous weapon provided the individual resides in the building, the weapon is stored within that individual's assigned unit and the storage of that weapon has been approved by the state, the governing board or a designee. This means that our SBHE would need to approve the storage of any firearms in SBHE-controlled residences. The SBHE is working on a policy in response to this legislation.
A new law was passed that prohibits an individual wearing a mask, hood or other face covering with the intent to intimidate, threaten or harass, for the purpose of evading, escaping discovery during a criminal offense or the purpose of concealment, flight or escape when charged, arrested or convicted of a criminal offense. Such a violation is a class A misdemeanor.
A bill was introduced to revise the jurisdiction of law enforcement, including campus police departments. Where UND is concerned, campus police have jurisdiction on all campus property and within specified boundaries extending beyond campus property. Further, if campus police are in “hot pursuit” they may continue beyond those boundaries if obtaining law enforcement of that jurisdiction would cause a delay permitting escape. Additionally, the SBHE may enter into joint powers agreement with local law enforcement to provide secondary response outside the boundaries.
The bill, introduced by the Legislative Management Higher Education Committee, repeals the existence of the advisory board. The Student Financial Assistance Advisory Board acted as a liaison between the institutions and the SBHE.
An amendment to the aircraft registration fees also requires the aeronautics commission charge state agencies, political subdivisions and (UND's) aviation school a reasonable cost of service in lieu of the regular registration fee.
Amended legislation outlines criteria for voter identification requirements and include specifics related to valid identification options, identification cards, responsibilities of election officials, and more.
Includes telehealth services to group and individual health insurance coverage.
This bill contains two sections of interest to UND. The first amendment requires submission of plans for new buildings, additions and remodeling to the state fire marshal, chief of fire department for approval as well as the SBHE. The state fire marshal and the fire chief or fire protection district is now required to approve, rather than review, those plans before construction begins, and they must be notified when the construction is complete.
Alumni Association & Foundation
Private donor and prospective donor records are exempt from open records to protect personal information including name, address, phone and email address as well as estate planning information, tax records and financial information.
Relates to a uniform Athlete Agents Act concerning representation of student-athletes and to protect students who have or are considering signing a contract with a sports agent. The Act governs relations among student-athletes, athlete agents and educational institutions protecting the interests of student-athletes and institution by regulating the activities of athlete agents.
The bill relates to the use of an electronic random number generator for improvement of 50/50 raffles. The amendment to this bill expands the permission from organizations that support collegiate athletics to any organization in the state that conducts raffles.
Academic & Research
These companion bills related to tuition and admission of non-resident students. HB1264 proposed allowing the legislature to set the tuition rates for out-of-state students, removing this function from the State Board of Higher Education. HB1265 proposed gradually reducing the number of out-of-state students who could be admitted to North Dakota institutions of higher education.
The bill initially passed in the Senate yet failed in the House. The Human Services Committee felt it was not a priority to expand the program for faculty but rather such programs were designed to put “boots on the ground” and to address access concerns in rural North Dakota.
The intent was to give institutions the opportunity to compete for state contracts however it was felt that it would complicate the process between state agencies and institutions, be too burdensome to administer and impact current and future research projects.
Compacts & Licensures
The North Dakota Board of Medicine testified against the compact and it was deemed that the State would be giving up too much sovereignty in licensing our physicians and the ability to make new rules for licensure if it was to pass this Bill.
SB2293 - Social Work Licensure, Qualifications and Regulations
The Committee felt it was almost all new language rather than amendments, without appropriate input from parties other than the Board. Therefore, they felt it was an overreach licensing board.
There were issues with the definitions of public employees and it was felt that certain measures could be achieved through Legislative Management rather than statute.
The purpose of this bill was to develop and implement a uniform system of employee evaluations for state agencies that required reporting annually to Legislative Management.
This bill would maintain the confidentiality of the applicants for NDUS chancellor and presidents until finalists are named. This particular bill was killed since a very similar but more expansive bill passed in the Senate. That bill, SB2152, maintained confidentiality for all applicants, not just NDUS executives.
Among the amendments to this bill included language instructing the Public Employees Retirement System to establish a self-insurance plan to go into effect January 1st, 2018 as well as adjustments to contract length and other fiscal specifications.
This bill removes the sunset clause for Medicaid expansion, and the language of this bill now appears in HB1012 (passed).
The intent of the bill was to move the approval for aircraft purchases and leases for big ticket items (during the Interim) from the Budget section to Legislative Management, however, with aircraft also defined as UAS, the Aeronautics Commission felt as though that would not be appropriate.
After examination of the bill, it was determined that it was a duplication of policies and requirements set forth by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Alumni Association & Foundation
This bill would require Legislative Assembly approval (or Budget section during the interim) before the solicitation or receipt of any grant, gift, donation or bequests, for naming rights to a building funded wholly or in part by state dollars of $5 million or more.