2015 is off and running! On January 6th, North Dakota convened its 64th Legislative Assembly. That same week, ICBND held its Legislative Reception at the beautiful new Heritage Center. We were pleased to welcome over 400 people through the doors despite some very inclement weather that evening. It was a terrific event and I thank those of you who were able to attend. For more information about the reception, see pages 15 and 16 in the January/February issue of the Community Banker.
The state legislative session has now kicked into high gear and we've been diligent in our advocacy efforts. We're following about 50 bills thus far that have varying degrees of effect to community banking, but overall banking-related issues during this session have been somewhat quiet. Human trafficking bills and "surge/ jumpstart" funding proposals, on the other hand, have been more high profile. By early-February, budget issues including tax relief proposals for the biennium will dominate the discussion. It's a whole new ballgame given the recent freefall in oil prices. As I write this column, WTI crude oil prices are hovering around $46 per barrel. That's about half what they were on October 1 of 2014 and over $20 lower than the day Governor Dalrymple delivered his 2015-2017 budget address. Oh, how things change! These dynamics will certainly consume this session and will undoubtedly affect our communities. I encourage you to stay involved in the political process. You may not think it matters, but it does.
Closer to the office, we are focused on improving your association and the value of your membership. We just "soft-launched" our newly revamped website. The website has been in planning and development for many months. We are very pleased with the results even though we are still working the bugs out and populating the site! We hope that you enjoy exploring our new website (www.icbnd.com) and that you find it easy to use and navigate.
We're also putting the finishing touches on our 2015 Emerging Leaders Development Program and the School of Agricultural Lending. These are tremendous programs that develop the leadership qualities and professional skills of our community bankers. We're proud to offer these programs and encourage you to take advantage of them.
Until next time,