Yesterday, we published an article explaining that the North Dakota Senate Finance & Taxation Committee gave a 5-1 Do Not Pass recommendation for House Bill 1545. This legislation proposed a study of the “feasibility and desirability of providing an alternative funding mechanism” to property tax. The Senate voted on the bill today and — as expected — defeated it on a vote of 7 – 39.
Senator Jim Dotzenrod (D – District 26) was the bill carrier. His explanation of why the bill should be defeated would be laughable if it weren’t such a serious issue. You can — and should — watch it here. While Dotzenrod claimed to be “very aware” that property tax is a subject of “some concern” around the state, his explanation of what the Finance & Taxation Committee has been doing to address that issue falls short of acceptable.
In my opinion, Senator Dotzenrod downplayed the issue. On the one hand, he said that the subject is beyond the scope of an interim study, while claiming on the other that they often study the issue “in one way or another” themselves in committee. That seems a bit contradictory. You simply can’t have it both ways.
In addition to this, Dotzenrod also mentions his committees support for a study on replacing special assessments with alternative funding mechanisms. In his mind, this is evidence that they are “concerned and paying attention to this issue”. I disagree. Tinkering around the edges is one thing. Eliminating the entire atrocity is quite another— which is exactly what needs to be done.
Senator Dotzenrod is correct about one thing when he acknowledges that it would take serious commitment and leadership from those in government to replace property taxes. In saying as much, he unwittingly explained the real reason why the bill failed— we have neither commitment or leadership from those who rule from Bismarck. And because of this, we will continue to pay rent to the government for something that is supposed to belong to us.
At the very least, let’s be honest with ourselves— property ownership is a myth.
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