District 5 legislative candidates seek re-election | News, Sports, Jobs
Republican incumbents in Minot’s District 5 are unopposed in pursuit of another four years in the North Dakota Legislature.
Late. Randy Burckhard and Rep. Scott Louser are seeking their fourth terms, and Rep. Jay Fisher is seeking his second term.
Would you support legislation to lower, or eliminate, state income or property taxes? Are there methods to provide tax relief that you favor?
Burckhard: As any good legislator would say, it’s always better if the people who work for their money get to keep more of their money. That’s good for the economy too. I would support legislation to lower state income taxes and also tax relief regarding property taxes. I hesitate to say we can eliminate property taxes, but we can probably buy some more mills down for the public school system.
Louser: Yes, in 2015 I introduced HB1296, similar to what is being proposed this session to reduce the tax brackets to one (flat tax) and take the rate to zero percent for individual income taxes. In 2017 I introduced HB 1388 to remove the mill levy for K-12 education funding from property taxes and shift the responsibility to the state. I will support similar efforts this session.
Fisher: Yes, I support property tax relief.
How would you like to see principal and interest in the Legacy Fund used or invested?
Burckhard: I don’t think we should spend any of the principal. We can spend the earnings. For example, last session, the state bonded for $680 million for transportation and infrastructure. We borrowed that money at less than 2% interest. We can make those payments on that debt with only part of the earnings from the Legacy Fund so the taxpayers don’t have to fork over any money for those infrastructure improvements. There’s lots of potential for spending some of those earnings on infrastructure.
Fisher: I would leave the principal of the Legacy Fund alone and invest the interest in infrastructure necessary for North Dakota.
Louser: The Legacy Fund investments are determined by the State Investment Board. Nearly one billion will be transferred to the general fund in the biennium. Uses for those funds should be limited to those projects or appropriations that benefit all North Dakotans as intended from the inception of the fund.
Do you support term limits for legislators and the governor?
Burckhard: I am against term limits. It’s an insult to suggest that voters don’t know who to vote for. Voters are very smart. Voters have opinions. Compared to 2011, this legislative session will have 34 new faces out of 47 members in the Senate. If that isn’t turnover, I don’t know what is.
Louser: The current measure on the ballot is extremely flawed. Our Constitution limits the number of days our legislative branch can serve to 80 days every two years. Amending our Constitution by placing a short time limit on the elected branch of government that serves as the voice of the people regardless of the effort, success and responsiveness of their representatives will absolutely shift the power and institutional knowledge to the unelected and to the lobbyists. Also, passage will ensure that majority and minority leadership, committee chairmanships and appropriations membership (handling multi-billion dollar budgets) will eventually be held by legislative assembly members with no past experience in those positions. Many districts have unopposed elections this cycle, which is evidence that finding candidates to run is already difficult in our state; Passage of this measure will make that effort even more difficult. Furthermore, this measure only relates to the governor’s office in the executive branch and no other statewide full-time office.
Fisher: No. Short terms for all elected officials opens the door for more control by lobbyists and bureaucrats. There is merit in experience in the legislative process, and term limits should be determined by voters exercising their right and duty on election day.
What policy or funding issue do you believe the Legislature needs to address this session? Will you be sponsoring legislation on that issue?
Burckhard: We have challenges in the workforce, housing and child care. If a couple has a child, sometimes it takes someone out of the workforce for a year or two or three. Part of the solution to the workforce shortage is to make sure that as many of our North Dakotans can work who want to work. That brings in more tax revenue. That gives that couple more income, but we have to figure out what to do for child care and the affordability of it and the availability of it. I think legislators are going to do something significant in that area this session.
Fisher: Funding education in other ways than raising property taxes should be investigated and changed if possible. The Common Schools Trust Fund keeps growing (thankfully), so perhaps it’s time to tap this fund more aggressively.
I will be supporting legislation protecting life from conception to natural death, not teaching Critical Race Theory in our schools, gender issues in male and female sports, maintaining our right to bear arms, not having mandatory COVID vaccinations for children and other similar issues.
Louser: For Minot, it’s crucial we continue to provide the maximum state funding as it relates to the local match for flood protection. While this project is approximately halfway complete, each phase that is complete not only protects Minot but also allows property owners to be released from the obligation to carry costly flood insurance. For the state, we finally have an avenue to address pension reform and address the over $1 billion shortfall in the public employees retirement system fund. I intend to co-sponsor both of those bills.