Good Morning Senator Hogue and Senator Larsen,
I’m writing to provide a last minute appeal for House Bill 1163 regarding the removal of North Dakota’s Sunday closing laws. And because this debate is just the latest in a series at both the state and local level that has me concerned, I’m publishing this letter publicly with the hopes that these thoughts will reach the ears of all our local leaders.
Minot is in a desperate position. By latest information direct-from-FEMA yesterday, we’re approximately 18-months from a revised flood insurance rate map going active. And because of the 2011 flood — likely all of the Souris Valley will be recategorized as high risk in those new maps.
It means flood insurance is going up, and it’s going up in a big way. No resident in the valley or on the hill will escape the impact of these rising rates and their trickle down effect on property values. These changes are the equivalent of an enormous rock being tossed in our pond — the ripples will echo through our economy for decades.
Here’s the thing though, we’ve got a flood protection plan that will get us out of FEMA’s floodplain. We’ve got a plan that will get us out of the way of the flood insurance tsunami that’s already headed for the region.
But it is expensive. Best estimates have our local share at nearly $350 million.
And based on recent meetings, the best method for funding Minot’s share is sales tax. Put another way, the mechanism we’ve identified for meeting our $350-million local obligation for flood protection is commerce; it’s economic activity. Here in Minot and throughout the valley, we’re hoping to pay for our flood protection by taxing business transactions that include the exchange of tangible goods.
And that’s why yesterday’s Sunday opening vote is so important locally. Those hours of commerce are a lifeline for Minot.
And those hours represent more jobs and chances to earn. Because when people start seeing $2,000 and $3,000 and $4,000 and higher flood insurance premiums, I think we’ll see them go looking for second jobs.
In short, the repeal of North Dakota’s Sunday closing law represents an opportunity to better fund and meet our greatest need — the safety and economic security of our citizens. And I don’t believe we can afford to act hypocritically toward that end any longer.
Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns. And please, if procedure allows, I urge you to bring this bill back to the floor for reconsideration and change your vote. This constituent is asking because I believe all your constituents need just that.