Bill would allow use of public funds to hire lobbyists

2013-02-08T15:24:00Z Bill would allow use of public funds to hire lobbyistsBy NICK SMITH | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

A Senate committee heard testimony Friday on a bill that would allow political subdivisions to use public funds for hiring lobbyists.

The Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee heard nearly 45 minutes of testimony from lobbyists and groups that currently represent cities and counties on Senate Bill 2313.

Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, said SB2313 would allow political subdivisions, like other organizations and interest groups, to hire lobbyists.

“I think we should be addressing this issue,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong noted that cities already can hire what are known as special city attorneys that serve as lobbyists. He said in effect lobbying is already going on.

“I think the special city attorney thing is, quite frankly, a loophole you can’t close,” Armstrong said.

Four cities currently have special city attorneys for lobbying purposes: Fargo, Williston, Minot and Jamestown.

Pat Finken, president of Odney Advertising, spoke in favor of SB2313. He said it provides another tool for local governments facing challenges to work to get assistance from the state. He used oil patch communities and communities addressing flood recovery and flood control as examples of how additional lobbying options could prove helpful.

“There is no question that the first line of contact between political subdivisions and legislators should be and remain with the local elected official and staff,” Finken said. “But the challenges have prompted some political subdivisions to seek help in working with the Legislature.”

Mark Johnson, executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties, spoke in opposition to SB2313. He said the issue of lobbying by political subdivisions was addressed in the 1970s.

Johnson said at that time, some communities felt it necessary to lobby the Legislature to more directly address their needs.

“There were stronger cities and stronger counties and there were weak cities and weak counties,” Johnson said. “What resulted was a sort of ‘arms race’ as some attempted to gain greater influence.”

As a result of the debate, Johnson said, the Association of Counties and the North Dakota League of Cities were legally permitted in order to represent their needs.

No action was taken Friday on SB2313. Sponsoring the bill along with Armstrong are Sens. David Hogue, R-Minot, and Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, and Reps. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, and Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo.

Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

House, Senate pass PSC budget with rail program

House, Senate pass PSC budget with rail program

North Dakota lawmakers in each legislative chamber approved a Public Service Commission budget Monday, which included a compromise on a rail s… Updated: 9:52 pm

3 hours ago

Senate passes PSC budget with rail safety pilot program

Senate passes PSC budget with rail safety pilot program

The North Dakota Senate approved a Public Service Commission budget, which included a compromise on a rail safety pilot program. Updated: 7:32 pm

8 hours ago

North Dakota Democrats hire Robert Haider as new director

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota's Democratic Party has hired Burlington native Robert Haider as its new executive director.

11 hours ago

Leadership works to end session Tuesday

Leadership works to end session Tuesday

The 2015 Legislature plans to work late into the evening tonight, aiming to finish the session Tuesday, according to House and Senate leadership.

12 hours ago

Oil tax bill makes whirlwind move through Legislature

Oil tax bill makes whirlwind move through Legislature

An oil extraction tax rate reduction bill completed its speedy path through the Legislature Friday when the North Dakota House voted to concur…

April 24, 2015 5:15 pm Photos

Photos

Expensive initiated measures to bypass general elections

Expensive initiated measures to bypass general elections

The North Dakota Senate quietly rejected a resolution that would require initiated measures with large fiscal impacts be decided in general elections.

April 24, 2015 10:45 am

Featured Ads

View All Ads