Last week I wrote about the fact that the 2019 Legislature rejected a bill that would have brought some measure of property tax reform to the state. This wasn’t the first one they defeated— there’s been at least four others I can think of. In fact, the number would be five when we account for the fact that they also defeated HB 1525, which would have shifted the building and maintenance of our K-12 schools to the state. That bill would have had a significant impact on property taxes.
No, at nearly every turn, this Legislative Assembly is doing everything it can to keep property taxes as they are— a “necessary evil”. The fact is that it’s even worse than that. Not only have they rejected all aspects of reform that would benefit those who pay property taxes, but they’ve even passed bills that provide the option for local government to raise our property taxes. They are as follows:
- Senate Bill 2052 – sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Donald Schaible (R – District 31), this bill is a potential tax increase shrouded under the idea of a “school safety plan”. It allows local school districts to levy up to an additional 5 mills to fund the plan, with the approval of voters. Details of the safety plan are exempt from public record, so voters aren’t at liberty to know exactly what they’re voting for. The reasoning for that, of course, is that they don’t want perpetrators knowing the school’s plan. This bill passed the Senate 43-3.
- House Bill 1268 – sponsored by newcomer, Rep. Clayton Fegley (R – District 4), this bill proposes a potential increase of 5 more mills for emergency services. The current mills are capped at 10. If this bill becomes law, they could max out at 15. It passed the House on a vote of 72-16.
One of the major problems with these pieces of legislation are that they’re always done under the guise of “local control”. But does it matter for the property owner who doesn’t want the increase? Local or not, it amounts to 50% + 1 of their neighbors determining whether they have to pay more. And I’ll remind you that many of those who vote in these elections don’t own property themselves. It is literally legal plunder.
These bills aren’t the only ones that have the potential to impact property taxes. As Rep. Sebastian Ertelt (R – District 26) explained in this video, there’s also House Bill 1066 — known as “Operation Prairie Dog” — that has yet to be heard and could potentially lead to increases down the road. Ertelt likens it to the buydowns that the legislature attempted as a means of bringing “relief” to property owners.
At some point, property owners need to revolt. The excuse that property taxes are a “necessary evil” is a lie. Not only are they unnecessary, but they could easily be abolished— just as Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7) explained last week, when he proved to the entire North Dakota House that not only could they be abolished, but that income tax could as well. And our state would still be #4 in the nation for tax revenue per capita!
We need a Property Tax Revolution.
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In my video, I explain a little bit about the “Prairie Dog” bill that has been getting a lot of media attention so far this legislative session. I believe that the legislation is fundamentally flawed and will ultimately result in increased property taxes. Please watch, like & share!
Posted by Representative Sebastian "Seabass" Ertelt on Sunday, February 17, 2019