Lawmakers Highlight Session Priorities - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Lawmakers Highlight Session Priorities

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Wednesday Governor Jack Dalrymple will be giving his guidelines for what should be included in the state's next budget.

In the meantime, North Dakota legislators are milling over what they see as priorities.

Donnell Preskey visited with many of them as they are back at the capitol today getting organized for the 2013 legislative session.

North Dakota is one of the few states with a budget surplus--an exciting time to start the job or carry on the job of a state legislator.

"We have tremendous opportunities and tremendous needs facing North Dakota this biennium," says democratic Senator Mac Schneider of Grand Forks.

Lawmakers say they are anxious to hear Governor Jack Dalrymple's plan for helping the areas playing host to the oil development.

"The oil country needs a big infusion of revenue to make sure we take care of those needs out there. They are real. The roads, infrastructure, and water," says republican Senator Rich Wardner of Dickinson.

Democratic Representative Kenton Onstad ofParshall says, "The state has a great responsibility and role and I think it's time to step up to the plate."

Republican Representative Al Carlson Fargo state, "Last biennium we put $1.2 Billion into the infrastructure out west and I do think it is slowly catching up."

And during the past three sessions, lawmakers have been working on lowering property taxes. That topic will be the center of many discussions again in 2013.

 "Measure 2 was a wake up call, even though it failed, it set the table as saying, "property tax still bothers people". We are going to take a good, solid look at property tax but we have to make sure that whatever we do it has to be sustainable or else we can't do it," says Carlson.

 "We fund education around 68-70%. We could do all of it and maybe a little more," says Wardner.

Republicans and Democrats alike have similar wish lists or priorities for this upcoming legislative session, including the need for a long-term plan for our state."

"How do we invest this money so we can continue to grow, and improve and keep the quality of life we have. That would be number one on my wish list," says republican Representative Kathy Hawken of Fargo.

The North Dakota legislature started a three day session today to do organizational work.

For the Democrats that meant picking new leaders.

North Dakota House Democrats chose Kenton Onstad of Parshall as the minority leader.

The Senate minority leader is Mac Schneider of Grand Forks.

Governor Jack Dalrymple gives his budget address to North Dakota lawmakers Wednesday morning at ten.

The regular session begins January 8th.

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