ND Republicans Again Looking to Break Campaign Promise and Raise Your Taxes

Senate Bill 2298 would raise taxes on customers who shop online in North Dakota. The tax hike is introduced by Senator Dwight Cook of Mandan who is the Senate Finance and Tax Committee Chair. In a purely strategical move, the Senate co-sponsors include the Vice Chair of Finance and Tax, Senator Brad Bekkedahl, and committee member Senator Lonnie Laffen. The co-sponsors in the House are all members of the House Finance and Tax Committee. Rep. Craig Headland is Chair, Rep. Jason Dockter is Vice Chair, and committee member Rep. Patrick Hatlestad.

Senator Dwight Cook

The other attempts by Republicans to raise taxes in the state have been turned away. When both Governor Dalrymple and Governor Burgum wanted to raise taxes on senior citizens, voters raised up and said that doesn’t match our values. It was defeated. When Rep. Roscoe Streyle wanted to raise your electricity rates by raising taxes on wind generation, voters declared it was ill conceived. It was defeated.

Now they’re trying to find another way to raise taxes and balance the budget after they dramatically reduced corporate income and oil taxes. It appears they’ve stacked the deck on this bill to get it done. The Finance and Tax Committees will be where this bill is heard. Every single sponsor is a member of those committees. They only need to convince one more member in the Senate committee to get a favorable “Do Pass” recommendation.

I believe we can unequivocally say their campaign promise to balance the budget without raising taxes was an empty promise. Just as they liked to accuse Burgum in the Primary race, they were willing to say anything to get elected. Don’t believe me when I say they made this promise? Here is the final paragraph that appeared on nearly every campaign mailer sent by the NDGOP which was created from Odney Advertising:

One of the mailers this generic language appeared had a photo of former Senator Mac Schneider and former Rep. Kenton Onstad with a bubble quote that said “Tax More!” Beyond that being a baseless accusation (they never once said that) to my knowledge, the only tax increases offered in the 2017 legislative session has been from North Dakota Republicans.

I understand why certain businesses would favor this. Specifically, those main street businesses that don’t have online sales and are subject to charging sales tax. Yet, I believe it is disingenuous for the ND Republican party to falsely accuse the Democratic-NPL of being the sole root of tax increases for election purposes.

SB 2298 has a blank fiscal note since there are a couple of other “contingencies” that make it “not possible to estimate the fiscal impact.” Because of the missing fiscal impact, this bill will likely not be referred to Appropriations Committees thus forgoing another round of scrutiny. We will continue to follow this bill and let you know if the majority breaks its campaign promise to you. Perhaps the third time of trying to raise taxes in the 65th session is the charm for them.

Tyler Axness
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