Governor reflects on productive session as Legislature adjourns
North Dakota is making strategic investments in its future, funding priorities and delivering citizens a conservative balanced budget without raising taxes, Gov. Doug Burgum said Friday after the 66th Legislative Assembly adjourned its regular session sine die.
“Working with the Legislature, we’ve delivered a budget that makes substantial investments in education, infrastructure, behavioral health, economic diversification and other priorities, all while ensuring state government lives within its means,” Burgum said.
Coming off an unprecedented $1.7 billion decrease in the general fund budget for the current 2017-19 biennium, the $4.8 billion general fund budget approved for 2019-21 represents a 12 percent increase but is still nearly $2 billion less than the record budget of over $6.8 billion in 2013-15. It also provides nearly $174 million in local property tax relief through the continuation of state funding to cover the cost of county social services.
“After weathering the storm last session, North Dakota’s future looks brighter than ever, with a healthy balance sheet thanks to a strong economy, collaboration between the executive and legislative branches and the foresight to plan for rainy days,” Burgum said.
Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, who serves as president of the Senate, addressed senators and thanked them for their service as they adjourned sine die.
For a look at legislation supporting priority areas, click on the link below.
During Perdue visit, Burgum stresses need for strong trade agreement
Gov. Burgum joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue during his visit to Fargo on Saturday, discussing issues facing North Dakota ag producers at a roundtable discussion and celebrating the launch of an autonomous farming initiative.
Perdue heard from local farmers and ranchers about issues such as uncertain trade markets, fluctuating commodity prices and planting delays due to spring flooding.
“We’re grateful to Secretary Perdue for once again giving North Dakota farmers and ranchers a direct line to the federal government on issues important to our state’s largest industry,” Burgum said.
Burgum highlighted the positive effect that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will have on agriculture. Trade with Canada and Mexico alone supports 30,800 jobs in North Dakota, underscoring the need to preserve and strengthen the North American trading relationship.
Burgum also joined Perdue and others to help celebrate the launch of the Grand Farm initiative, which is spearheaded by Fargo’s Emerging Prairie and aims to be the world’s first completely autonomous farm to demonstrate how precision agriculture can increase productivity.
Burgum thanks legislators at bill signing for Roosevelt presidential library endowment
State legislators who voted to create a $50 million endowment for the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum joined Gov. Burgum on Friday as he signed the bill into law and thanked the assembly, calling it “a historic piece of legislation that’s going to be transformational.”
The state-funded endowment will be created if $100 million in private donations is first raised for construction of the library and museum in Medora.
“This is the place for this presidential library. We’ll tell the story not just of Roosevelt but of the people of North Dakota, and we’ll tell that story to generations going forward,” Burgum said. “We’ll be forever grateful for the Legislature’s courage and resilience to find a way to seize this historic opportunity.”
Burgum stressed that the $50 million endowment will always be held by the state Department of Trust Lands. The fund’s earnings will be used for operations and maintenance of the library and museum.
The endowment was an amendment to SB 2001, the Governor’s Office budget bill. House members passed the bill 76-16 and the Senate approved it 34-13 last week.
Applications being accepted for Ethics Commission through May 24
Applications are being accepted by the Governor’s Office through May 24 for service on the North Dakota Ethics Commission, which was established through a voter-approved constitutional amendment last November.
Under the newly created Article XIV of the North Dakota Constitution, individuals are eligible to serve on the five-member Ethics Commission unless one of the following criteria apply:
- The individual holds a statewide elected or appointed public office.
- The individual is a candidate for statewide public office.
- The individual is a lobbyist.
- The individual is an employee of the legislative branch, including Legislative Council.
- The individual is an appointed agency director, serving in one of the Governor’s cabinet agencies.
Appointments will be made by consensus agreement of the Governor, Senate Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader.
Interested individuals may apply under the “Boards” section of the governor’s website.
Bill incentivizes use of carbon dioxide captured from coal plants for enhanced oil recovery
Gov. Burgum on Wednesday signed legislation providing an economic incentive to use carbon dioxide captured from North Dakota’s coal-fired power plants for enhanced oil recovery by injecting the carbon dioxide underground.
Under House Bill 1439, incremental oil produced by injecting coal-generated carbon dioxide will be exempt from oil extraction taxes. Incremental oil produced from the Bakken or Three Forks formations will be exempt for a period of 10 years, and incremental oil produced from other formations will be exempt for a period of 20 years.
The legislation supports initiatives such as Project Tundra, which proposes to use technology developed with the Energy & Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks to capture up to 95 percent of the carbon dioxide from MinnKota Power’s Milton R. Young power plant near Center. The EERC estimates an additional 1 billion barrels of oil can be produced from older “legacy” oil and gas fields outside the Bakken using captured carbon for enhanced oil recovery.
“This is a win-win for North Dakotans,” Burgum said. “Our coal industry, partnering with the EERC, has been leading the charge in capturing carbon dioxide emissions. By providing the economic incentive needed to transform these emissions into a valuable commodity, we will continue to be a nationwide leader in environmental stewardship while simultaneously increasing our energy production and strengthening our economy.
Background photo from REUTERS/Andrew Cullen.