As North Dakota’s legislative session wraps up in the next three weeks, there are a few important bills that lawmakers are trying to get across the finish line before the 80-day session ends.
One provision that Republicans are trying to pass is income tax relief. The Senate failed to pass House Bill 1530 late March, which would have transferred funds from the Legacy fund, an oil tax savings account, to an income tax rate reduction fund. This is important because without returning to money to taxpayers through a tax cut, it could be spent instead.
Provisions of HB 1530 were added to Senate Bill 2006 in the form of an amendment this last week, an appropriations bill originally meant to target the homestead credit and the disabled veterans’ credit. The House-amended version of the bill now awaits in senate conference, so hopefully lawmakers will be able to hash out the differences before their session is up on May 2nd.
This is a push in the right direction as states with lower or no income tax allow for higher growth, especially in the job market. According to a report by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), over the past decade, the nine states without personal income tax have consistently outperformed the nine states with the highest taxes on personal income in job creation, population growth, and tax revenues.
Another bill that legislators should aim to deliver to the Governor’s desk is House Bill 1286, relating to civil asset forfeiture reform in the Peace Garden state. The goal of this bill, according to its sponsor Representative Rick Becker (R-Bismark), is to eliminate the, “perverse incentive” of “policing for profit.”
According to the Institute for Justice (IJ) Policing for Profit report, North Dakota currently earns an F for its civil forfeiture laws. Only two states have received F ratings from IJ, North Dakota being one, and Massachusetts being the other. They rightfully received this rating for having the, “lowest bar to forfeit and no conviction required and poor protections for innocent third-party property owners,” with as much as 100% of forfeiture proceeds going to law enforcement. HB 1286 would raise the standard of proof for convictions and require annual reporting to increase transparency.
This is not going to solve the problem of corruption in the civil asset forfeiture system overnight, however, it is a step in the right direction when it comes to ensuring North Dakotans are granted due process and justice under the law.