Today an amended version of the bill came to the floor for approval, and the portion of the bill replacing revenues for local governments was removed. Which makes sense. AFter all, nobody is going to reimburse the State of North Dakota for revenues lost from the exemption, why should local governments get an appropriation? And do we really want to open up a can of worms where in every change to the tax code which might impact local revenues must be married to an appropriation to the state to replace those revenues?
Do we really want to set a precedent whereby the local governments have to be bribed in order for the state to cut taxes?
But that’s where things got interesting. After the amendments were introduced on the floor Sinner rose and accused Senate Finance and Taxation Committee Chairman Dwight Cook (R-Mandan) of amending the bill for the purposes of killing it.
“Chairmen of standing committees follow certain unwritten rules about how they run their committees,” Sinner said. “Normally they do not amend bills that are against the sponsors wishes without first notifiying the sponsor and giving the sponsor an oppotunity to address that amendment. That did not happen in this case.”
“Further I know what happened here would never happen to a member of the chairman’s own party,” he added. “What I believe is going on here is nothing more than a tactic to give cover to those who want to vote against this bill. Why else would you amend this bill and then give it a do not pass?”
After those accusations Senator Cook rose and, clearly feeling a bit emotional, responded. “AFter the last comments I’m just going to say that wherever he gets his understanding it’s obviously the wrong understanding and I’ll let leadership take care of whatever problem he has with the way he runs my committee.”
The amendments passed on a 32-14 vote and the full bill will get a vote tomorrow, but later in the session Senator Dick Dever (who was presiding over the chamber today as Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley is currently out of state) admonished the chamber about questioning the motivations of other members which are against the rules of procedure.
At the end of the floor session Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider rose to defend Senator Sinner, rather ludicrously claiming that the Fargo Democrat’s comments weren’t aimed at Cook.
“I didn’t see the comments as directed at any one person,” Schneider said.
Here, again, is what Sinner said: “Further, I know what happened here would never happen to a member of the chairman’s own party.”
Sure sounds like a direct accusation of partisanship to me.