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Legislative Report: Bills Cross Middle Point [AUDIO]

The Legislature has reached the halfway point. Wednesday marked crossover period for the body, meaning it was the last day for third reading in the house of origin. Amy Richards has more in Thursday’s Legislative Report:

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This Legislative Report is brought to you by Hilltop National Bank.

From this point on, the House will be dealing with senate files and the Senate with house bills. House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Tom Lubnau says there are education bills and constitutional amendments coming over from the Senate which will take up some floor time.

Rep. Tom Lubnau, Senate bills:

“We’ve got a couple packages of bill that we need to look at. We’ve got the education accountability bills coming over in a package, and we’ll try and do those all in a day. The we’ve got the constitutional amendments and we’ll try and do those all in a day.”

Lubnau says it’s been a very busy session so far, even though there have been fewer bills.

Rep. Lubnau, busier because:

“One of the LSO staffers said this is a different session because there are fewer bills, but they are bills that require complicated and long debate and are very philosophical. I didn’t anticipate the volume of social issues that were presented by both sides this session and we certainly had our share of them.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Sen. Tony Ross says there are several bills from the House that will take up some time on the floor, including the school recalibration bill and some of the bills dealing with social issues.

Sen. Tony Ross, bills from House:

“So with that I’m going to have to prioritize the number of bills and decide which ones rise to the top and which ones don’t, because, quite frankly, we don’t have as much on the Senate side to work those bills, as the House did.”

Ross says the Senate will begin working on the supplemental budget bill on Monday.

Sen. Ross, money set aside:

“And it is one-time money, and the reason we have that money is because we went through the budget reduction a year ago, with the 10 percent cuts. By so doing, we have some extra money to be able to allocate to cities towns and counties, to roads, and to some other projects that we need, or deem necessary.”

A motion to reconsider House Bill 191, that would have tripled the electrical generation tax on wind farms while cutting the sales tax developers pay on turbines and other equipment, failed late Wednesday afternoon. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Stubson says he’s not sure where the state goes from here.

Rep. Tim Stubson, where to go now:

“The fact is that the tax system we adopted last session has some problems with it. And it was adopted as a place holder; we figured out what the problems were and we still need to fix those so I don’t think the issue’s been addressed, but I think we may need to look at some other ways to do it but I think we can.”

More discussion on second reading in the Senate on House Bill 117, which would provide a sales tax exemption for mega data centers. Opponents of the want some type of guarantee that a company that will get the sales tax break will stay in the state. Albany County Sen. Phil Nicholas says as a rule he is against sales tax exemptions, but this project will be extremely beneficial to the state.

Sen. Phil Nicholas, benefits:

“And in this instance, we do see that there will be a significant capital investment that will result in property taxes, so I think, generally, the argument is what we would prefer to do is try to encourage them to come to the state by giving them the sales tax exemption, and in return we will pick up significant property taxes.”

That bill will be on third reading in the Senate tomorrow (Friday).

With the Legislative Report, I’m Amy Richards for K2 radio news.

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