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Legislative report (5/6/2013)

The NDSU Extension Service has good news to share about the recently completed legislative session. I want to make four key points with this posting:

#1

I want to express my appreciation to the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education (SBARE) for their dedication in prioritizing and supporting the needs of the NDSU Extension Service during the 2013-2015 legislative session. Please thank the SBARE board members who reside in your area when you see them.

#2

The list below summarizes the additional resources passed by the North Dakota legislature.

  • Compensation Plan: The final pay plan is still to be determined.
  • Cost-to-continue: $540,528  (This accounts for inflationary needs to cover operation funds.)
  • Agents-in-Training and Interns: $250,000 (Half of the requested funding was received. Funding will support two agent-in-training positions and 2.5 summer interns.)
  • Livestock Development: $370,000 (One of the two area livestock specialist positions requested was funded. The position will be located at either the Hettinger or Central Grasslands Research Extension Center. In addition, program support will fund the development of an Extension livestock production economics program in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics.)
  • Crop and Resource Protection: $150,000 (Of four program items prioritized, funding for one technician for the weed management or potato programs was the only item supported.)
  • Soil Conservation Committee Technical Assistance Grants: $150,000 (These are pass-through funds to the State Soil Conservation Committee to support Soil Conservation District projects.)

House and Senate Amendments Not Included in SBARE Priorities

  • Rural Leadership North Dakota: $125,000 (Funding for Rural Leadership North Dakota was added to replace a temporary funding source that was used during the last biennium.)
  • Junior Master Gardener Program Interns: $25,000 (Funding was provided to support two summer interns to expand the Junior Master Gardener program in Burleigh County.)

One-time Funding

  • Video Conference Equipment: $110,000 (Funding to replace six county and eight REC/campus systems that are obsolete.)
  • North Dakota 4-H Camp Renovation: $950,000 (These state funds will be matched with $950,000 of private funds being raised by the North Dakota 4-H Foundation to renovate the cabins and main lodge, and to build a new multi-purpose building at the North Dakota 4-H Camp near Washburn.)

Other Budget Note

  • Gearing Up for Kindergarten: Funding for this program was in the Department of Public Instruction budget. We are waiting for final action. 

#3

We sought direct funding for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Extension staff in the oil-impacted counties. The legislature did not fund our request, but a bill is proposed to create an $8.5 million pool of funds in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to address high housing costs in the oil region. We will get more information on how Extension can apply for these funds for employees.

#4

This legislative session demonstrated to me the incredibly high value of your local connections with legislators. They need to be well informed about the nature, impacts and value of your Extension programming. This coming winter, we will coordinate another round of legislative reporting sessions to maintain or strengthen their understanding of your programs.

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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