$1.1 billion surge bill passes N.D. Senate, 45-2

A bill intended to provide surge funding for western North Dakota passed its first hurdle last week after a vote in the N.D. Senate.

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By Bryce Martin | N.D. Group Editor | bmartin@countrymedia.net

A bill intended to provide surge funding for western North Dakota passed its first hurdle last week after a vote in the N.D. Senate.

Each of the state’s 47 senators, except for two, voted Jan. 29 in the bill’s favor.

Sen. Bill Bowman, R-Bowman, told the Pioneer moments after the Senate voted that the surge bill was passed in a 45-2 vote.

The bill provides a one-time $1.1 billion “surge” funding to areas affected by the Bakken Oil Boom in western North Dakota. About $800 million of the funding would be distributed to counties and cities affected by the boom and $320 million would be given to the N.D. Department of Transportation.

Bowman said now the bill would likely be fast-tracked for a vote in the N.D. House of Representatives. If approved in the House, it then would head to the governor’s desk.

“I was very pleased that it passed,” said Lyn James, president of the Bowman City Board of Commissioners. James attended the Jan. 16 legislative hearing on the bill, along with some Bowman County commissioners and other local representatives.

James said she hopes the House will be equally mindful of the challenges facing western North Dakota when it considers the bill.

Two proposals for the surge funding were debated Jan. 16 during a legislative hearing on the issue—one, proposed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple, excluded funding for counties, while another, set forth by the people, allocated funds for oil-impacted cities and counties, including Bowman County.

The $1.1 billion in funds would be directed for infrastructural needs, such as the creation of roads, building affordable housing and spurring other community development.