Editorial: February 2017
Representing NDAREC at the Legislature
With President Donald Trump and Governor Doug Burgum in their new positions, and with last month’s convening of our state Legislature and national Congress, the processes of government are in “full swing.”
As I write this in late January, I note 796 bills have been introduced in our state Legislature. Bills introduced get full and fair review over the course of the 80-day session. Every bill gets assigned to a committee, receives a hearing and vote there, then goes to the floor of their respective chamber to be debated and placed up for vote. Bills that pass one body cross over to be voted upon by the other body. Only the bills that pass both houses with concurrence are sent to the governor for his signature and, if signed, will be enacted into law.
The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives has a daily presence during our legislative session. We are monitoring nearly 50 pieces of legislation. We act as an information resource for legislators, advocating for, and sometimes against, proposals that impact our members. How bills affect members “at the end of the line” will always be our priority.
NDAREC has public policy positions that generally support all forms of energy generation. We think it is important to strike a responsible balance: We favor generation development that protects the assets of our members, which features a clear path for future utilization and avoids adverse environmental impacts.
That is why NDAREC has been supportive of securing funding for research and development for clean coal, and carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies. We also support continued progress with renewable energy, and continued emphasis on energy efficiency on the part of consumers. In addition, we are working with state policymakers to ensure your cooperatives receive property tax parity as budget formulas and proposals are considered.
Last month, we hosted the NDAREC legislative reception in conjunction with our annual meeting. More than 350 legislators, elected officials, co-op directors and employees participated. Your co-op representatives were able to visit personally with state leaders, and discuss issues that are important to our industry and to our members. It was a very successful event.
Finally, I would like to thank Ryan Taylor and Brian Kalk for their public service. Both are respected and admired by our cooperative family, and are departing their respective positions.
Ryan Taylor served as the state director for USDA Rural Development for the past 17 months and was a true advocate for rural North Dakota and rural communities. With the change in presidential administrations, Taylor left that post last month.
Also last month, we learned that Brian Kalk, North Dakota Public Service Commissioner, is leaving that seat, to take a leadership role with the Energy & Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks. With the PSC, we appreciated his thoughtful consideration and sound judgement regarding issues important to our industry and our members.
Thanks and best wishes to these fine gentlemen!