The 2007 North Dakota Legislative Session adjourned sine die on April 26. My first session was a tremendous and exciting learning experience for me. I think baptism under fire would best describe the 78-day session. Overall, NDPMA can consider the recent session a success. The association was able to avoid any renewable fuels mandates or “standards”. We were also successful in pushing through amendments strengthening the petroleum release tank fund bill.

The following is a brief update on major bills NDPMA tracked during the 60th legislative session.

HB 1454: This is ND’s new minimum wage bill. It will essentially mirror the Federal Minimum Wage Act which was recently passed as part of the new Iraq War Spending Bill. Out of all the minimum wage bills this was by far the best of the four bills (HB 1337, SB 2122, and SB 2370) brought forward.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both House and Senate and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2151: This bill will allow the check collection agencies in ND to raise their fees by $5 per check from $25 to $30.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both House and Senate and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2355: The gift certificate bill which would have asked the store owner to pay out cash for the remaining balance on a gift card when it hit a certain point. Most gas retailers in the state are already honoring gift cards in this manner.

NDPMA opposed. Bill died in the Senate

HB 1049: This bill repeals the 2% excise tax on all heating fuels. It was amended to remove 1% per year from all heating fuel taxes, beginning on 1-1-2008. The entire excise tax would be done away with on 7-1-2009. NDPMA’s only concern regarding the bill was the impact it would have on the highway distribution fund .

NDPMA remained neutral. Bill was amended and passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

HB 1094: This is a bill put in by the State Health Department concerning tank monitoring equipment and Secondary Containment vs. Financial Responsibility when it comes to tank installations. This is essentially a bill that says the state requirements can’t exceed federal guidelines. NDPMA will be working closely with State Health officials after the session when it comes to the specifics of this bill.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

HB 1109: This is the tank fund bill we worked on during the interim. We met with the Insurance Commissioner. We amended the bill. It basically sets parameters and makes it more difficult for a marketer to enter the fund in arrears after an accident (petroleum release) has occurred.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2159: This is the ethanol pump sticker bill. It would mean all marketers selling an ethanol blended gas would label their pumps with a standard sticker provided by the EPIC. It would be uniform with the sticker currently being used in other states. NDPMA will be working with EPIC to get the pump decals to its member marketers this summer.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2087: This is the State Tax Department bill which puts into tax codes the definitions for E-85 and biodiesel.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2085: This is the State Tax Department bill calling for monthly reconciliation reports for all ND fuel marketers.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

HB 1121: This is the State Health bill which puts into code definitions for alternative fuels and biodiesel. This also calls for proper labeling of alternative fuel pumps and price signs.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2334: This bill would have eliminated all advertising by the state when it comes to the lottery. NDPMA stated while its marketers weren’t crazy about the 5% earnings for the sale of a ticket, the lottery does drive traffic on certain days so if we’re going to have it, we need to advertise it.

NDPMA opposed. Bill died in the Senate

SB 2164: This bill would have eliminated smoking in all public places including truck stops. NDPMA worked in opposition to this bill since many large gas retailers had spent thousands of dollars after the 2005 session to set up smoke free environments.

NDPMA opposed. Bill died in the Senate

HB 1262: This was the 2 vs. 1 license plate issue. Bill sponsors were pushing for one license plate. NDPMA stressed two license plates were need for security and drive off purposes.

NDPMA opposed. Bill died in the House

HB 1495: This bill takes a portion of the motor vehicle excise tax and moves it over to the highway fund. The bill sponsor was hoping for a 50 % transfer of the taxes to the fund. The House Appropriations reduced the number to 10 %. The 10% figure equated to just over a 1 cent per gallon tax increase.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed the House, but was killed in the Senate. HB 1495 was brought back as a portion of HB 1012

HB 1012: This is the state highway bill. It included an amendment calling for a one-time appropriation of 10 % of the state motor vehicle excise tax to the state highway fund. This 11.6 million dollar appropriation offset any fear of a gas tax this session.

NDPMA supported. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

HB 1348: This bill puts a 4 cent a gallon flat tax on all special fuels vs. the current 2% excise tax. NDPMA told the bill’s sponsors they needed to decide on one form of the tax or the other. The sponsors chose the 4 cent flat tax.

NDPMA remained neutral. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2180: This is the Governor’s biofuels bill. It included $250,000 during the next biennium for gas retailers wishing to install an E-85 or biodiesel dispensing system. Marketers can participate in a 5% interest buy down on the needed equipment through the Bank of ND. Ethanol blender pumps were sought in this bill at one time, but NDPMA worked hard to put this notion to rest, citing legal and liability concerns.

NDPMA remained neutral as amended. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2282: This was the blender pump bill. It gave incentives to the marketer for selling ethanol blended gas by striving to hit certain percentages of ethanol sales as the years progressed. NDPMA testified against this bill several times. I took the gloves off when it reached Senate Appropriations and let it all hang out in opposition to this bill, again stressing the many potential liabilities facing the ND gas retailer, including a lack of FFV’s in ND. This was a bad bill and its impact was misrepresented by the bill sponsors. It was essentially a bill they were trying to sneak by us.

NDPMA opposed. The bill died in the Senate

SB 2288: This bill would have given roughly 25 million dollars to the renewable energy industries. This bill would also have been the supposed funding mechanism for the blender pumps in SB 2282; however, bill sponsors never made mention of this during the hearing. This bill was amended and given 3 million dollars for the renewable energy cause.

NDPMA remained neutral as amended. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SB 2374: I believe this bill would have given the counties a 10% break on fuel costs for the year if they used at least 10% of biodiesel in their total gallonage for the year. NDPMA voiced concerns over how counties would be able to access this product from the local retailer at the pumps. NDPMA also sought some sort of marketer immunity from product failure since biodiesel are so new to the fuel product slate.

NDPMA opposed. Bill died in the Senate

SB 2408: This bill would have given school districts a break for utilizing a certain amount of biodiesel in their total yearly gallonage as well. NDPMA voiced the same concerns as it did in testifying on SB 2374.

NDPMA opposed. Bill died in the Senate

SB 2391: This bill was the ND Ethanol Producers 3 cent per gallon to the marketer incentive plan. NDPMA again took the gloves off when testifying before Senate Appropriations, telling the government to give the incentive to the consumer not to the marketer. NDPMA viewed this bill as a mandate in disguise. NDPMA said ethanol usage would continue to climb if price and availability were good. Let the consumer, not the legislature set the course for renewable fuels.

NDPMA opposed. The bill died in the Senate

HB 1190: This bill was the “snoose” bill. It pitted UST against RJR (mostly Conwood). The so-called smaller guy (Conwood) wanted to change the way snoose was being taxed. Both the state tax department and the wholesalers opposed the bill saying the system was working just fine.

HB 1190 died in the House

HB 1358: This is the cigarette stamping bill. NDPMA opposed the bill in testimony saying the way to stop the selling of counterfeit cigarettes and make sure all retailers are paying their fair share of taxes isn’t to stamp each pack of cigarettes, but to stop selling them to reservation outlets until the tribes agree to pay taxes. The area wholesalers also stood in strong opposition to this bill. It would without question lead to a hike in the pack of cigarettes on the retail level since the wholesalers would have to invest a fair amount of money in stamping equipment. The state tax department also testified the stamping program wasn’t needed in ND at this time. The bill was amended and took the stamping language out. Language was also inserted pertaining to vending machines and further public education.

NDPMA supported as amended. Bill passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Hoeven

SCR 4009: This resolution called for amending the state constitution to provide for a vote of the people when it comes to an ethanol and biodiesel mandate. NDPMA testified the constitution wasn’t developed to use to promote mandates.

NDPMA opposed. Bill died in the Senate

Our Sponsors