Forum Held in Minot
MINOT – The first of six scheduled Minot legislative forums gave citizens an opportunity to quiz area legislators, primarily on bills pending in the current session of the North Dakota legislature.
The format for the exchange between lawmakers and voters was simple, written questions only. Those submitting questions could request a response from a chosen legislator in attendance. Participating legislators were Sen. Bob Paulson, R-Dis. 31, Minot; Sen. Randy Burckhard, R-Dis 5, Minot; Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Dis. 38, Minot; Rep. Larry Bellew, R-Dis. 38, Minot; and Rep. Jay Fisher, R-Dis. 5, Minot.
Sen. Burckhard responded to a question regarding proposed bills to alleviate automatic tax payments for parents whose children are not enrolled in a public school.
“Parents of kids of other schools want some kind of reimbursement,” said Burckhard. “They want to get the ball rolling, give parochial school parents some kind of reimbursement.”
Sen. Burckhard also characterized this year’s legislative session as being “all about workforce” and that “we have many more jobs than we have people.” He added that childcare is a related issue.
Rep. Ruby told the gathering that legislators were evaluating a bill that would provide low interest loans for childcare providers.
Ruby also responded to two questions that have generated a lot of interest from North Dakota hunters, a bill to prohibit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department from imposing a ban on baiting in certain deer gun hunting units where chronic wasting disease is present, and another that would allow party hunting for deer. Presently each hunter is required to harvest their own deer.
“Most people would say it’s very commonly done,” said Ruby in response to the inquiry about party hunting. “I think the idea is to let people fill all their deer tags, whoever has the best shot gets the deer. In the past this one has usually failed.”
On the issue of deer baiting, Ruby said, “There’s just no definition to baiting. Game and Fish says the science behind it is to not allow deer to congregate and spread CWD. We know very well deer are congregating without baiting.”
The deer baiting bill is currently being studied by a sub-committee of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Sen. Burckhard responded to a question about the possibility of property tax relief coming out of the current legislative session.
“Leadership will get together and ask how will we do this,” said Burckhard. “I think the result will include property tax relief.”
Rep. Fisher, a member of the Finance and Taxation Committee, reminded those in attendance that Governor Doug Burgum has proposed a plan for zero income tax, adding, “The best tax, usually, is the one that somebody else pays, and it’s not.”
The next Legislative Forum in Minot is scheduled for Saturday, February 4 at the North Dakota State Fair Center Norsk Room at 9 a.m. The event is open to the public.