Sen. Hoeven says ‘Job creation is job one’ for economic development
The positive tone of Wednesday’s annual meeting of Forward Devils Lake was set early on as President Guy DeSautel turned over the gavel to incoming President John Nord.
Executive Director Rachel Lindstrom ramped up that positive tone with her report highlighting the numerous programs accomplished through the last year and those coming up in the year ahead.
In her address to the gathering she touched on a few of the projects they’ve helped to accomplish in Devils Lake like an increase in available multi-family housing, business facade improvement, mini-grants for research and development, business plans, marketing and patent fees for small businesses.
She also mentioned the many ongoing efforts they are involved with, the list of FDL investors who provide funds for what cannot be paid for through grant dollars and the list of the board of directors for the year ahead.
Then she turned the microphone over to Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson whose task was to introduce the guest speaker, Sen. John Hoeven.
Johnson pointed out how instrumental Hoeven was in helping Devils Lake with its flooding issues. “We owe Sen. Hoeven a debt of gratitude for his care and commitment to this community and its well-being,” Johnson said.
He also said that it was Hoeven who went to bat immediately when he learned about the mission team from Devils Lake that was detained in Venezuela last year.
Hoeven’s opening remarks at the event emphasized that whether you’re working on the federal, state or local level, job creation has to be job number one. Devils Lake is poised for growth, he said, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations and Agriculture Committees, Hoeven is working to support their efforts to grow the local economy and create good jobs for residents.
“We’re working hard to create a business environment that will help communities like Devils Lake grow and create good jobs for their region,” Hoeven said. “That includes lifting the ban on crude oil exports, passing the longest-term highway bill since 1998 and approving a tax reform bill with $680 billion in tax relief. In addition, with the lake now stabilized, opportunities for investment are growing.”
The senator cited a range of recent legislation to benefit the economies of North Dakota and the nation:
•Lifting the Crude Oil Export Ban: Will create jobs and grow our economy. It will keep the price of gasoline lower at the pump for consumers and businesses because of more supply, and it will bolster national security through energy security. The measure could help Vancouver-based Eagles Ledge Energy, which has proposed to build a $200 million, 20,000 barrel-per-day diesel refinery in Devils Lake. The project would employ about 100 people, with 400 spinoff jobs.
•A New Five-Year Highway Bill: Will provide North Dakota with more than $1.3 billion and enable more than 100 North Dakota transportation projects to advance. The formula is favorable to North Dakota and increases annual highway funding for the state to $263 million, about $23 million a year more than it currently receives. The bill also provides a total of $76 million over five years for transit projects in N.D.
•Provides More Than $680 Billion in Tax Relief and Permanently Extends the Sec. 179 Limitation with the $500,000 limitation, the number one priority for farmers, ranchers and small businesses. Sec. 179 is a provision of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code that allows farmers, ranchers and other small businesses to expense the purchase of equipment they need to run their operations. Congress also passed legislation that extends the bonus depreciation allowance for five years.
•Stabilizing the Lake: Since his tenure as governor, Hoeven has worked to stabilize Devils Lake. Knowing the fixed boundaries of the lake provides investor confidence, enabling the community to grow its tourism industry. As Senator, he has worked to secure more than $500 million since 2009 to address flood protection, roads and property losses in the region, including.
–U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Embankments
–Department of Transportation Emergency Relief Funding
–BNSF/Amtrak Empire Builder Tiger Grant
–Water Bank Program
•Ensuring the Farm Bill Works for Producers, especially during times of low commodity prices:
•Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC): Due to USDA’s current method of calculating payments under the ARC program, no payments were made to corn farmers in LaMoure and Logan counties and inadequate payments were made to farmers in Ransom and Steele counties for the 2014 crop year. Hoeven is working to get the FSA to use yield estimates submitted by the North Dakota state FSA office to determine county ARC payments in counties for which there were no National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data. Further, Hoeven is working as a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee to ensure this flexibility is in place for the ARC program in future years.
•Water Bank: Worked to provide funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Water Bank Program. This program allows producers to enter into 10-year agreements to voluntarily protect wetlands and flooded agricultural lands in return for annual payments, and has been especially helpful in the Devils Lake Basin, where producers have faced ongoing challenges from flooding and rising waters on farmland. The year-end funding bill passed in December continues the program at the FY15 level of $4 million, a total of $17.2 million since 2012.
•Waters of the U.S.: Hoeven included a provision in the Senate Interior-EPA Appropriations bill for FY 2016 to prevent funding for implementation of EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule. Hoeven continues to fight to stop the WOTUS regulation from being implemented through the appropriations process. Hoeven is also a cosponsor of the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, separate legislation that would rescind the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule and require the EPA to start the process over with more input from stakeholders.