Lawmakers Continue To Work on Oil Impact Bill - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Lawmakers Continue To Work on Oil Impact Bill

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Bismarck, ND -

The North Dakota legislature canceled it's session today because of the spring snowstorm.

Once they return, there will be a lot of focus on the issue or returning money to oil impacted areas.

The Senate has House bill 1358, which is the oil impact bill.

Senators have removed 1/3 of the money in the bill, creating a lot of frustration.

The huge cut has made many people in oil impacted areas angry.

But as Donnell Preskey reports, lawmakers are asking western North Dakota residents to be patient.

Funding for oil impacted areas is a top priority this legislative session.

But a recent move by the Senate has many people wondering how much money will flow back to the area suffering the most impacts from the oil development.

"It just kinda took the heart out of my area. We need the money, we weren't asking too much," says Rep. Dave Drovdal of Arnegard.

"Everybody recognizes the needs that our oil producing counties have. And recognize there will be a lot of money going to those counties to address those needs. The process that this thing is going through is just that, it's a process," says Senator Dwight Cook of Mandan.

While Representative Drovdal understands the process, he knows others back home are confused.

"The perception is the support isn't there. Are we going to get nickeled and dimed again?" says Drovdal.

In fact, Drovdal says in his 20 years in the legislature he's never seen so much negative reaction over a bill as with the cuts to 1358.

"My concern is that's a budget that's going to get cut to balance the budget, that means we will take the crumbs and be last on the list," says Drovdal.

"The biggest challenge is there is money all over. There are a tremendous amount of bills that have money for oil counties," Cook says.

There are 7 other bills that currently include funding earmarked for oil country.

Senator Cook is going through those bills.

"If we are going to spend $1 billion, I want to put some problems to rest," says Cook.

While the days lawmakers have left to act are numbered... Cook says have patience.

"Relax, we'll get to the finished product and you will enjoy it."

"Tell them to have faith," says Drovdal.

Drovdal is pushing to be on the conference committee that looks at the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

"I want to be on that committee because I can answer the questions, show the needs because I've been there," says Drovdal.

Senator Cook says in the end they hope to have $1 billion in money for oil country.

Lawmakers are working with legislative council to find out what bills funding is in related to oil impacts so there is no duplication.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill early this week.

 

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