Hello everyone! This is my final summary report of the 2019 legislative session. Please contact me if you’d like a more detailed report.
First, the budget. I voted against a fair share of budget bills for various reasons, but the overall result of the session was an increase in the General Fund budget from $4.31 billion to $4.84 billion (12.4%). $275 million (52%) of the increase was an increase in K-12 funding – a 2% increase each year in the per pupil payment and to provide for growing enrollments. With another 8% of the increase due to Higher Education, a full 60% of the increase is for education.
The Other Funds or Special Funds budget (funded by fees and federal funds, not sales or income taxes, etc.) saw an increase of 6.5%, with the increase seen in DOT road projects, water projects, the state interoperable radio network (SIRN), and Higher Ed capital projects (new buildings on college campuses).
The toughest bills of the session for me were SB 2315 (posting of private lands) and SB 2344 (pore space). Both involved private property rights, and both took very winding roads with many amendments and some complicated provisions. In the end, I voted for both of them, and SB 2315 was defeated in the House (after passing the Senate) and SB 2344 passed.
The extensive public process I witnessed with both bills is one example of why I believe in the system and why I believe it works. Both bills had more than a dozen hours of public testimony given. No one was turned away who wanted to testify or give their input. Moreover, beyond that numerous hours of work were put in by the legislators on the Ag committees or Energy and Natural Resources Committees to do their best to get it right for all parties involved. Even though people disagreed, no one can say the public process didn’t work.
I really appreciated the communication I received from constituents throughout the session. Sometimes when reading a bill it’s challenging to see how it affects people in a practical, everyday sense, and having someone who’s directly affected by the law (or a change therein) articulate the reasons why the proposal is either needful or harmful is always very helpful.
With this being my second session, I was definitely more settled and at ease in the mind compared to the first. Knowing what to expect and knowing the people and the process made a big difference. It was also a great honor and experience to serve as vice-chair of the Finance and Taxation Committee.
Out of the seven bills that I introduced as the prime sponsor, five of them passed and were signed into law. The two most notable in my mind were SB 2312 (change tribal oil tax split; ratification of new oil tax compact between the state and the MHA Nation) and SB 2056 (relating to apprentice electrician outreach education; allowing more options and helping more individuals take their Journeyman’s license).
Thank you for the honor of serving you, and I look forward to being in touch throughout the interim.
Jordan Kannianen, District 4 Senator