News releases, reports, statements and associated documents covering state government, cities and counties.
Rep. Pete Lee's bipartisan bill to create a crime prevention pilot program for areas of the state with little economic opportunity and high rates of criminal activity earned initial approval from the House this evening on second reading.
"This is a paradigm shift in criminal justice in Colorado," said Rep. Lee, D-Colorado Springs. "The underlying premise is to take money from savings in the criminal justice system and invest it in improving the quality of life and economic opportunity in crime-impacted neighborhoods."
"For DENVER, April 28 -- The Colorado House Democrats issued the following news: Rep. Pete Lee's bipartisan bill to create a crime prevention pilot program for areas of the state with little economic opportunity and high rates of criminal activity earned initial approval from the House this evening on second reading. "This is a paradigm shift in criminal justice in Colorado," said Rep. Lee, D-Colorado Springs. "The underlying premise is to take money from savings in the criminal justice system and invest it in improving the quality of life and economic opportunity in crime-impacted neighborhoods." "Fordecades we have been fighting crime with huge public safety expenditures to put more cops on the street and then, on the back end, with high incarceration," Rep. Lee continued. "It's time to change that and instead focus on preventing crime on the front end by encouraging economic growth, creating good jobs and investing in education and community development."
HB17-1326 launches a pilot program in southeast Colorado Springs and north Aurora. It reduces the length of time that a parolee may serve for a technical parole violation, and through the revenue saved, creates the justice reinvestment crime prevention initiative in those neighborhoods. The funding will be distributed by local crime prevention planning teams to expand small business lending to create jobs and provide grants for community-based services to strengthen families, develop neighborhoods, improve academic achievement, promote recovery from trauma, provide support to crime survivors and reduce recidivism.
"We know that a lack of jobs and educational opportunities, drug addiction and trauma all contribute to crime. So let's use this funding to target those causes," concluded Rep. Lee.
The program is modeled after successful programs elsewhere and is a first for Colorado. A provision in the bill requires data collection to inform future crime prevention efforts in the state.
The document was originally issued on April 27, but posted on April 28.
First Lady Crissy Haslam, the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry (TDF) along with state leaders and citizens will celebrate the certification of the Tennessee Residence Level II Arboretum on National Arbor Day, Friday, April 28 at 10:30 a.m. CDT at the Executive Residence.
TUFC's certification program maintains standards for public education by state arboreta. A certified arboretum must be open to the public with trees that NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 27 -- The Tennessee Department of Agriculture issued the following news: First Lady Crissy Haslam, the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry (TDF) along with state leaders and citizens will celebrate the certification of the Tennessee Residence Level II Arboretum on National Arbor Day, Friday, April 28 at 10:30 a.m. CDT at the Executive Residence. TUFC's certification program maintains standards for public education by state arboreta. A certified arboretum must be open to the public with trees thatare labeled, properly protected, and well maintained. The number of individual tree species an arboretum contains determines its designated level. Level II must have 60 different species and a map showing tree locations for self-guided tours.
The Tennessee Residence is now one of 93 TUFC certified arboreta throughout the state, and it is one of 16 with Level II designation. In conjunction with the establishment of the Level II arboretum, the Tennessee Residence also continues to partner with TDF on a conservation education program, which involves teaching elementary school children about the importance of trees and forests in our communities.
An initial tree inventory yielded 52 different tree species on the 10-acre property, which met qualifications for Level I status. To reach Level II certification, eleven species suggested by the state forester were added as a result of generous contributions by several local garden clubs and businesses. There are now a total of 177 individual trees representing 27 families and 63 species. The top 3 most frequent species are Southern magnolia (20), flowering dogwood (18) and American elm (12). The newest addition is a potentially blight resistant American chestnut tree seedling donated by the American Chestnut Foundation.
WHO: First Lady Crissy Haslam, Tennessee Urban Forestry Council, Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.
WHAT: Certification of The Tennessee Residence Level II Arboretum
WHEN: Friday, April 28 at 10:30 a.m. CDT
WHERE: Tennessee Residence, 882 Curtiswood Ln S, Nashville, TN
All media are invited to attend this celebration and ribbon-cutting event. Due to security procedures at the Tennessee Residence, we ask that media RSVP to Tim Phelps at Tim.R.Phelps@tn.gov or 615-428-5913.
The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved two pro-life measures that would prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions and protect women by requiring licensing and inspection of abortion facilities. State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) voted in favor of the proposals.
"Ensuring women's health and keeping tax dollars from being used on abortions should not be controversial topics," Torkelson said. "These were easy 'yes' votes for me."
The first bill prohibits funding ST. PAUL, Minn., April 27 -- The Minnesota State House Republican Caucus issued the following news release: The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved two pro-life measures that would prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions and protect women by requiring licensing and inspection of abortion facilities. State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) voted in favor of the proposals. "Ensuring women's health and keeping tax dollars from being used on abortions should not be controversial topics," Torkelson said. "These were easy 'yes' votes for me." The first bill prohibits fundingfor abortions from state-sponsored health programs that are administered by the Department of Human Services.
"Minnesota has been providing some funding for abortions, and we believe that is not the proper role of state government to fund that sort of activity," Torkelson said. "This legislation would restrict state participation in the funding of abortions all across the state."
The second bill requires any clinic that performs ten or more abortions each month to be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health, and those facilities must comply with all inspections.
"We require licenses in this state from everything to a barber shop to a farm that applies pesticides," Torkelson said. "It's absolutely appropriate and reasonable to protect the safety of those women who are using these facilities to ensure they are inspected and licensed."
The proposals now head to the Minnesota Senate for continued debate.
TO: Local and Intermediate School District Superintendents
Public School Academy Directors
FROM: Venessa A. Keesler, Ph.D., Deputy Superintendent
Division of Educator, Student, and School Support
SUBJECT: Computer Science Education Opportunity for Michigan Schools
Computer science is an industry growing at three and a half times the state's average. Ensuring students are exposed to this fast-growing industry early in their education will help LANSING, Mich., April 27 -- Venessa A. Keesler, Deputy Superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education, issued the following memo: TO: Local and Intermediate School District Superintendents Public School Academy Directors FROM: Venessa A. Keesler, Ph.D., Deputy Superintendent Division of Educator, Student, and School Support SUBJECT: Computer Science Education Opportunity for Michigan Schools Computer science is an industry growing at three and a half times the state's average. Ensuring students are exposed to this fast-growing industry early in their education will helpfill the pipeline of the high-tech, high-paying jobs that await them as well as engaging them in authentic learning experiences.
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has collaborated with the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office (MFDMO) to provide digital badging opportunities for students.
The MFDMO and Google have partnered to advance computer science education in Michigan schools by elevating Google's CS First curriculum. CS First is a completely free, online curriculum that is designed for grades 4 through 8 and can be incorporated in the classroom or as an after school club.
The MFDMO and Google recently hosted their second annual CS First event at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University. Attending students engaged in a variety of computer science activities including robotics, drones, 3-D printing, and coding games.
The MFDMO and Google partnership, in its second year, has nearly 5,000 students currently enrolled in the program. By joining the partnership, participating schools have access to digital badging which their students can share on social media pages, are supplied up to 20 complimentary headphones, and are invited to participate in the annual CS First event at the Breslin Center.
Joining the partnership is an easy two-step process:
1) Visit the CS First Michigan page to submit an application. Completing this application entitles you to exclusive partnership opportunities including the ability for your students to share digital badges of the CS First Club themes. The MFDMO also provides up to 20 complimentary headphones to schools that participate in the CS First program through the partnership. Participating schools will also be invited to attend our annual Google event at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
2) Start a club and receive lesson plans on the CS First website.
For more information, please visit: https://www.cs-first.com/michigan or contact the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
cc: Michigan Education Alliance
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of the first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge - the first new bridge constructed in New York City since the Verrazano Bridge in 1964. The Governor celebrated the opening on the new bridge with Queens and Brooklyn dignitaries and community members. The grand opening included a celebratory march across the brand new bridge, with delegations from both the Queens side and the Brooklyn side meeting in the middle to kick off the celebration. The Governor ALBANY, N.Y., April 27 -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., issued the following news release: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of the first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge - the first new bridge constructed in New York City since the Verrazano Bridge in 1964. The Governor celebrated the opening on the new bridge with Queens and Brooklyn dignitaries and community members. The grand opening included a celebratory march across the brand new bridge, with delegations from both the Queens side and the Brooklyn side meeting in the middle to kick off the celebration. The Governoralso drove across the bridge in a ceremonial first ride in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1932 Packard. The new span will open to traffic in both directions at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday night.
The Kosciuszko Bridge project replaces the existing 78-year-old bridge with two new state-of-the-art cable-stayed bridges - one Queens-bound and one Brooklyn-bound. The original Kosciuszko Bridge first opened in 1939 under President Roosevelt's administration. Additionally, the $555 million Phase I project is the largest single contract the New York State Department of Transportation has ever undertaken - resulting in the construction of the Queens-bound bridge, which includes three lanes of traffic in each direction until the completion of Phase II. The new bridge will benefit approximately 200,000 commuters each day and has a service life of 100 years, ensuring its viability well into the future.
"New York is making unprecedented investments to revitalize our transportation infrastructure, ensuring that our roads and bridges are fully equipped to meet the needs of the 21st century traveler," Governor Cuomo said. "The opening of the first span of the Kosciuszko Bridge is a major milestone for New York City that will serve hundreds of thousands of commuters every day. This new bridge will ease congestion and improve our region's transportation network while demonstrating that the Empire State continues to lead the nation in building state-of-the-art infrastructure projects that will serve New Yorkers for generations to come."
The FY 2018 Budget supports and expands upon New York State's historic $100 billion infrastructure program - investing in the state's aging roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure components. This unprecedented investment is critical to strengthening and hardening the state's outdated infrastructure, safeguarding its sustainability for years to come.
Once the project is fully completed, the Queens-bound bridge will carry five lanes of traffic and the Brooklyn-bound bridge will carry four lanes, as well as a 20-feet-wide bikeway/walkway with spectacular views of Manhattan. Shoulders will be added to both bridges, where none currently exist. The new bridge will be lower than the original by 35 feet, decreasing the incline and allowing trucks and other large vehicles to maintain consistent speeds on the bridge, helping to ease congestion.
"The opening of the first span of the Kosciuszko Bridge is a major milestone for New York City that will serve hundreds of thousands of commuters every day."
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
In February, the Governor announced plans to implode two major sections of the old bridge this summer, clearing the way for Phase II of the project to begin in May of this year - a full seven months ahead of schedule. This will move up the expected opening of the Brooklyn-bound span to early 2020, a full four years ahead of schedule.
Tonight, the Governor will mark the grand opening of the Kosciuszko Bridge with a spectacular light show synchronized to music on multiple iHeartRadio stations. The light show is the first performance in "The New York Harbor of Lights" that will illuminate crossings with multi-color LED light shows that will be visible for miles. The shows will transform New York's already awe-inspiring structures into international tourist attractions, spurring additional tourism and economic activity for the region. The premiere of "The New York Harbor of Lights" will also include coordination with the lights of the Empire State Building.
The new Kosciuszko Bridge is New York City's first cable-stayed bridge, featuring a total of 56 stay cables made up of approximately one million linear feet of steel strands. A cable-stayed bridge uses steel cables placed at an angle to connect the bridge deck to vertical towers that extend high above the roadway, with the pylon tower of the Kosciuszko Bridge measuring 287 feet high. Additionally, each of the 3,850 tons of structural steel used to construct the new bridge was manufactured in the United States. The bridge measures 1,001 feet in length and 99 feet in width.
Design-build was essential in the completion of this project, pushing the timeline forward by four years. This model is being used across New York's large infrastructure projects including on the New New York Bridge project to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge. Design-build contractors submitted proposals to design and build the bridge at the same time. The design-build process, implemented by Governor Cuomo, allows for the combining of design and construction services into single contracts to help expedite repair work to vital infrastructure and save taxpayer money. Funding made available as a part of Governor Cuomo's NY Works program to create jobs was also a key component to completing the project. Additionally, the project to replace the Kosciuszko Bridge exceeded the 14 percent Disadvantaged Business Enterprise goals established by the Federal Highway Administration, totaling $83 million of DBE participation funding to date.
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, "After years of planning and construction, I am thrilled that the first span of the new Kosciusko Bridge will finally be open for public use. With this bridge, we reinvigorate New York's tradition of bold infrastructure projects that move our economy forward. The old bridge was widely regarded as the worst bridge in the state, and so I fought for, and secured $670 million in federal funds-- nearly 85% of the total cost of building both spans--so we could start over and give Queens and Brooklyn a bridge to be proud of. Today we are thrilled to have a new, beautiful, state-of-the-art span in place of the old, crumbling, dangerous eyesore. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for seeing the first span through to completion, and look forward to continuing to work with him on the second span."
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said, "The accelerated construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge is a testament to New York's commitment and ability to deliver bold infrastructure improvements that are critical to keeping our state globally competitive. Hundreds of thousands of motorists will benefit daily from the state-of-the-art bridge. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's vision, the stunning display in the New York Harbor of Lights will delight and inspire generations of residents and visitors."
Senator Martin Dilan said, "The opening of the first span of the Kosciuszko Bridge today shows the nation and the world that government can get things done. By working with our communities and providing construction jobs to New York's many hard-working men and women, we will continue to successfully update our transportation infrastructure not only in New York City, but in every region of the state. I applaud Governor Cuomo for having the vision and determination to push this historic project forward."
Assemblymember Joe Lentol said, "The stunning new Kosciuszko is an iconic new addition to our skyline that will inspire New Yorkers for generations to come. This new bridge joins the likes of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Verrazano Bridge as a grand part of the New York City landscape. By replacing the unloved old bridge with a beautiful new cable-stayed span, Governor Cuomo has delivered relief for Greenpoint and once again proven what New York can achieve."
Assemblymember Catherine Nolan said, "The opening of the first span of the Kosciuszko Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Queens is a wonderful achievement for our great state. I would like to commend Governor Cuomo and the NYS Department of Transportation for making the right investments in our infrastructure."
Assemblymember Erik Dilan said, "The opening of the new Kosciuszko Bridge is a major accomplishment for New York State and will serve hundreds of thousands of commuters each day between Queens and Brooklyn. I applaud Governor Cuomo for investing in our state's roads and bridges to help make the lives of New York's drivers smoother and easier."
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said, "What was once a bottlenecked, deteriorating eyesore - the new Kosciuszko Bridge is now a safe, beautiful work of art. Made possible by the leadership of Governor Cuomo, this new bridge was constructed by the hard-working men and women of this state and I applaud our communities for supporting this historic effort."
Assemblymember Maritza Davila said, "With the opening of the new Kosciuszko Bridge, residents and visitors alike will be impressed by this wonderful connection between Brooklyn and Queens. The innovative design of the new bridge will help reduce traffic for commuters and improve the life of working class families. I thank Governor Cuomo for pushing this critical infrastructure project through to fruition."
New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer said, "I have spent hundreds of hours stuck in traffic as cars and trucks attempt, and often fail, to dodge pot holes and uneven conditions on the old Kosciuszko Bridge. While other states bicker about crumbling infrastructure, we in New York get things done. Completing this project ahead of schedule is a testament to the leadership of Governor Cuomo, and I am thrilled about no longer having to dodge pot holes or wait for hours in traffic to cross the Newtown Creek."
Skanska USA Executive Vice President, Michael Viggiano said, "Skanska USA, lead partner of the Skanska-Kiewit-ECCO joint venture team, congratulates Governor Cuomo and the State of New York on the completion of the first cable-stayed bridge in New York City history. We commend the Governor for his vision of modernizing our aging transit systems and for illustrating the potential of design/build as our city, state and nation explore alternative methods for more rapidly and efficiently meeting our infrastructure needs."
Auditor of State Dave Yost today released the City of Massillon (Stark County) from fiscal emergency, a status it held for more than three years.
The city of 32,000 residents was placed in fiscal emergency on Oct. 8, 2013, because of a $518,182 deficit in three funds in December 2012 and a $135,906 deficit in four funds in May 2013.
"City officials faced a number of challenges in managing and balancing municipal finances, but after taking corrective action and improving fiscal policies and controls, COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 27 -- Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost issued the following news release: Auditor of State Dave Yost today released the City of Massillon (Stark County) from fiscal emergency, a status it held for more than three years. The city of 32,000 residents was placed in fiscal emergency on Oct. 8, 2013, because of a $518,182 deficit in three funds in December 2012 and a $135,906 deficit in four funds in May 2013. "City officials faced a number of challenges in managing and balancing municipal finances, but after taking corrective action and improving fiscal policies and controls,they have succeeded in restoring the city's financial stability," Auditor Yost said.
To accomplish this, the city temporarily reduced its income tax credit by 25 percent to eliminate a $137,000 general fund deficit, and passed a 0.2 percent income tax levy allowing the city to move $350,000 out of the general fund and into the street fund. Municipal employees also now pay 15 percent of the cost of their health care premiums, saving the city $465,000 annually.
The city eliminated a $39,000 deficit in the police pension fund, a $91,000 deficit in the fire pension fund and a $4,000 deficit in the fire damage fund.
The City of Massillon also met these conditions to be released from fiscal emergency:
1. Adopted and implemented an effective accounting and reporting system;
2. Corrected or eliminated all fiscal emergency conditions and no new conditions have occurred;
3. Met the objectives of the financial recovery plan; and,
4. Prepared a five-year financial forecast in accordance with standards issued by the Auditor of State, and the opinion expressed by the Auditor of State is "nonadverse."
A full copy of this fiscal emergency termination is available online (https://ohioauditor.gov/auditsearch/detail.aspx?ReportID=128096).
Click here (https://www.dropbox.com/s/zpsd4mob2si75k7/Massillon_FE_Release.mp4?dl=0) for a downloadable video of Auditor Yost speaking about the district's release from fiscal emergency.
North Dakota is well-positioned for the future with a leaner, more efficient state government and smaller budget that provides permanent property tax relief, fully funds K-12 education and uses innovative approaches to support other priorities, Gov. Doug Burgum said Thursday after the 65th Legislative Assembly adjourned sine die.
"Despite the unprecedented revenue shortfall we faced heading into this session, we were able to fund our priorities and balance the budget through sensible cuts, limited use of reserves BISMARCK, N.D., April 27 -- Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., issued the following news: North Dakota is well-positioned for the future with a leaner, more efficient state government and smaller budget that provides permanent property tax relief, fully funds K-12 education and uses innovative approaches to support other priorities, Gov. Doug Burgum said Thursday after the 65th Legislative Assembly adjourned sine die. "Despite the unprecedented revenue shortfall we faced heading into this session, we were able to fund our priorities and balance the budget through sensible cuts, limited use of reservesand new initiatives that will streamline state government and make it more responsive to taxpayers," Burgum said. "Over the next 20 months, our administration will work tirelessly to carry out this budget and identify ways to reinvent government and improve services to the citizens of North Dakota."
The $4.3 billion general fund budget for 2017-19 represents a more than 28 percent decrease from the current two-year budget cycle, which ends June 30.
The budget approved Thursday contains more than $1.3 billion in local property tax relief, including $161 million in state funding to cover the cost of federally and state-mandated county social services and reduce local property tax rates.
The state's overall budget will decrease from $14.2 billion to $13.6 billion.
"We thank the Legislature for working with the executive branch and other state agencies to curb spending and create a balanced budget," Burgum said. "Our balance sheet remains strong and North Dakota's future is brighter than ever."
Following is a snapshot of some of the legislation supporting priorities:
PROPERTY TAX RELIEF
* Senate Bill 2206 transfers the funding responsibility for social services from counties to the state during a two-year pilot program, creating $161 million in permanent property tax relief while repealing the unsustainable 12 percent state-paid property tax buydown program. The bill also directs the Department of Human Services to develop a plan to look at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of how social services are delivered to clients across the state.
* The state continues to provide property tax relief through K-12 funding to reduce local mill levies, to the tune of an estimated $1.13 billion in 2017-19.
* Relief also will be provided through $14.8 million for the homestead tax credit, $8.1 million for the disabled veterans tax credit, $24.2 million in court administration costs and an undetermined amount from state administration of child support enforcement.
K-12 AND HIGHER EDUCATION
* The "innovative education" bill, SB 2186, empowers local school districts to better shape educational delivery to meet the needs of the 21st century by allowing schools to submit a request to waive sections of law related to K-12 education, provided their plan improves the delivery or administration of education, increases educational opportunities or improves students' academic success.
* Thanks largely to $110 million from the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund, K-12 funding through the per-pupil student payment in HB 1013 was held harmless, ensuring that students and teachers are protected from the economic downturn facing the state. Special education grants also were increased by $2 million.
* The North Dakota University System's budget includes a Shared Campus Services Line with $500,000 for open educational resources and a system-wide shared services review to find efficiencies between campuses and throughout the entire system.
* The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences will receive $15.2 million for the student residency program, while the Education Challenge Grants program will receive $2 million.
GROWING OUR ECONOMY AND JOBS
* The Department of Commerce budget bill, SB 2018, contains funding to help diversify our economy and foster job creation, including $3 million for further development of the Grand Sky unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) business and technology park in Grand Forks and $2 million for Northern Plains UAS Test Site operations.
* HB 1035 ensures the angel fund program can continue its important role of encouraging capital formation and building investment capacity for new and expanding businesses in North Dakota and beyond.
* HB 1296 eliminates unemployment insurance paper reporting for businesses. Electronic reporting is more efficient for both North Dakota Job Service and employers, and eliminating paper reporting will save money and time while improving customer service.
* Legislation provides grant funding of $35 million to the Williston airport and $5 million to the Dickinson airport, supporting economic activity.
CORRECTIONS REFORM: The governor signed a package of bills that aim to reduce spending on corrections while moving funding upstream to provide additional support for people dealing with behavioral health and substance abuse issues and avoid additional future costs in health care and the criminal justice system.
* SB 2015, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget, redirects $7 million to improve access to effective, community-based substance abuse treatment and an additional $500,000 to develop a network of treatment providers to serve people in the criminal justice system and reduce recidivism.
* Justice reinvestment legislation, HB 1041, reduces the drug possession charge level, establishes probation as the presumptive sentence for low-level, nonviolent felonies and has other provisions designed to free up limited and costly jail and prison space.
* Legislation was approved prioritizing prison space for people convicted of serious and violent offenses, while HB 1269 reduces the minimum mandatory penalties for offenses involving a controlled substance or analog, giving the courts broader sentencing discretion that can result in more meaningful and cost-effective sentencing.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY
* To improve communications capabilities for law enforcement, ambulance services and other first responders, HB 1178 authorizes the creation of a statewide interoperable radio network.
* In response to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the governor signed legislation designed to protect landowner rights, deter criminal activity and aid law enforcement.
* HB 1430 addresses the dangers of numerous distracting behaviors while driving, beyond texting while driving.
* HB 1359 creates a Silver Alert Notification System that allows for a notification - similar to an Amber Alert - when a disabled adult, vulnerable elderly adults or minor with a development disability is reported missing to law enforcement.
* Together, HB 1104, HB 1106 and SB 2110 allow the state to work with critical infrastructure owners and providers to understand cyber threats, to be proactive in supporting lifeline service providers when under threat or attack by cyber events, and to use National Guard cyber protection and defense assets as they're developed.
* SB 2322 gives financial industry professionals, our state Securities Commissioner, and our Aging Services professionals new tools to help detect and prevent financial exploitation of seniors and vulnerable adults.
HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
* SB 2344 establishes a medical marijuana program to be administered by the North Dakota Department of Health, with a $1.56 million budget and six FTE positions, with about half the budget coming from patient, caregiver, grower and seller fees and the other half coming from the general fund.
* The bill remedies some of the challenges posed by last year's Measure 5, including adding decriminalization language and adding terminal illness to the list of more than a dozen qualifying debilitating medical conditions included in the original measure.
* SB 2327 will create a new, standalone Department of Environmental Quality by July 1, 2019, by separating the Environmental Health Section from the Department of Health. This will enable the state to better address environmental needs and increase the visibility of this important work by elevating the DEQ to a cabinet-level agency.
* As recommended by the governor, the Legislature repealed BreatheND and moved all tobacco prevention and control activities to the Department of Health, boosting efficiency by centralizing efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use among youths and adults into one agency.
* HB 1040 provides additional funding for behavioral health services and creates an evidence-based alcohol and drug education program to educate minors about alcohol and substance abuse.
* HB 1038 supports the establishment of a caregiver resource center website, providing easy access to caregiver information in a centralized location for caregivers and the general public.
* HB 1136 puts the substance use disorder treatment voucher system into state law.
* SB 2088 broadens the scope of work for addiction counselors to include nicotine and problem gambling and reduces barriers to licensing to support workforce development.
* SB 2251 will provide early support and interventions to keep substance-exposed infants in their homes while their parents receive treatment, reducing the likelihood that these families will continue to rely extensively on government services in the future.
* SB 2342 creates a 10-member, multi-disciplinary task force to study the prevention of sexual abuse of children and provide recommendations including policy changes, training for school personnel, educational information for parents and counseling and resources for students affected by this type of trauma.
* SB 2012, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) budget bill, optimizes the department's 67 maintenance sections by consolidating eight smaller, outdated section shops into larger service areas. This allows the NDDOT to realize technological advances in snow removal equipment and recognizes the state's changing demographics and traffic. The bill also allows the NDDOT to work with political subdivisions to lease the buildings and transfer used snow plows, if requested.
* SB 2012 also optimizes NDDOT driver's license sites, moving services from nine satellite sites to the main driver's license sites, resulting in a cost savings and a net increase in counter hours and driving tests available.
* HB 1299 allows for online renewal of driver's licenses. Noncommercial drivers can apply by mail or electronically for renewal of a license during every other renewal cycle. Those under 65 will only need to visit a driver's license office once every 12 years for renewal.
* HB 1255 directs the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) to establish a limited transportation network of designated highways with higher truck weight limits, allowing shippers to be more efficient and make less trips.
* HB 1202 requires the NDDOT to study the use of autonomous vehicles on state highways and report the findings to the 66th Legislative Assembly.
WATER PROJECTS AND FLOOD PROTECTION
* HB 1020 contains $298.8 million in new funding for water projects across the state.
* The bill also contains legislative intent to provide up to $193 million for flood control projects in Minot over the course of the next four biennia and up to $30 million in 2017-19 for the Red River Valley Water Supply Project for planning, permitting, and construction-related expenses.
* HB 1374 also provides intent for the State Water Commission to have its seven members be appointed from areas of the state that represent each of the state's seven major drainage basins and limits development downstream of dams within breach inundation zones.
ENERGY, NATURAL RESOURCES AND AGRICULTURE
* HB 1336 provides for oil and gas operators to conduct voluntary environmental health and safety audits to find and fix potential violations of state laws, free from threat of civil penalties if certain conditions are met. This concept is modeled after states like Texas, South Dakota, Wyoming and Oklahoma.
* HB 1347 increases the appropriation to the Abandoned Well Oil and Gas Site Plugging Restoration Fund Legacy program to remediate old oilfield issues where there's no responsible party under law. It also continues studies on brine pond remediation and conducts a study on pipeline risk assessment and leak detection technology.
* HB 1257 decreases the minimum royalty owner and working interest owner consent needed to form a unit from 60 percent to 55 percent, allowing for greater possibility of unitization in the future for increased oil recovery and footprint reduction.
* SB 2134 establishes state policy for definition of mineral ownership under the Missouri River and provides due process to those who wish to challenge the presumptive ordinary high water mark. This bill sets a statute of limitations for court challenges of North Dakota Industrial Commission ordinary high water mark determinations and establishes a timeline for distributing lease and mineral revenue to the rightful owners.
* HB 1433 will make it easier for food producers to sell directly to consumers.
* HB 1204 reduces the age to qualify for an apprentice hunter validation license from 16 to 12 years old, and allows youths who turn 11 before the end of the calendar year to receive a whitetail doe license valid for only the youth hunting season.
* HB 1419 appropriates $250,000 to the Game and Fish Department to establish and administer a shooting sports grant program, which may be made available to schools, clubs and organized youth groups in the state.
* HB 1207 allows the Game and Fish Department to seize tangible property presumed abandoned on state game refuges and streamlines the process for auctioning the property to benefit the Report All Poachers rewards fund.