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Early Education Grants Backed by Senate

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After Tuesday’s Senate vote, parents may be able to put their kids in school before kindergarten. Although the measure goes against committee recommendations, Senate Bill 2229 was passed 35 to 12. To accomplish this task, the Department of Public Instruction would divide $4.6 million into $100,000 grants to give to schools that meet criteria set up for the program. At this point, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the bill along to the floor after giving it a do not pass recommendation.

According to committee members like Senator Terry Wanzek, programs for early childhood education are unnecessary because it’s the responsibility of parents, not the government, to prepare children to learn. However, the Senate Educations Committee, led by Senator Flakoll of Fargo, was unanimous in its passing of the bill. It said that this program is optional, and parents will be the ones to make the call to use them or not. The bill was sponsored by Senator Nicole Poolman of Bismarck, who said that the bill is vital because North Dakota schools have demonstrated the need for preschool education.

Water in Rural Areas

To get state funding or create or grow water projects, both cities and rural areas will need to negotiate annexing problems. House Bill 1440 is a solution to the issue according to representatives, who sent the bill to Senate on a vote of 83 to 10. This problem has come to light as cities are growing due to the oil boom. The population requires more water and land to support, but the rural districts that handle them are presently slow to handle the issue because of federal protection. If the bill passes, cities will need to tell rural water districts of their plans to annex land and be required to mediate agreements between party arbitrators before continuing.

Taxes on Water

A bill designed to tax water used by oil companies didn’t pass at the House on a 36 to 57 vote. According to the bill’s sponsor, Representative George Keiser of Bismarck, oil companies should be required to get permits for water usage just as North Dakota citizens, who own the water, do. The bill would help western North Dakota with the infrastructure support needed for the oil boom, but opponents said that the bill comes at a bad time as Missouri River water restrictions are being stopped.

Use of Land

House Bill 1338 calls for Governor Jack Dalrymple to take back land now managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the state of North Dakota. The bill specifically deals with extra land around the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and Rock Sioux Reservation. After a vote of 75 to 18, the bill went to Senate.

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