Legislators Look at Oil Country - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Legislators Look at Oil Country

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From traffic jams to frack jobs to rapid growth - some state legislators were seeing it all in the Bakken today.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council is hosting dozens of legislators for a bus tour of western areas of the state.

And today, they came to the Watford City area - a region that has exploded in population, development, and traffic counts.

Economic Development Director Gene Veeder says the population of McKenzie County has at least tripled in the past five years, and tax collections have skyrocketed by more than 400% in that same time.

He says giving state legislators a first-hand view of the impacts of those changes, can make a big difference in how those lawmakers react when they're on the job in Bismarck.

(Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Economic Development Director) "It's really about educating the legislators that we've been working with for the last two or three sessions, showing them what we've already done with the dollars they've allocated to us, what some of our needs are going to be as we move down the line, and then have them meet some of the people in the industry."

The tour group included legislators from across the state.

One of them, Senator Phil Murphy of Mayville, says he and his colleagues gain a lot of valuable information on these tours.

He supports increasing the percentage used in the formula for distributing oil revenue to counties in oil country.

(Sen. Phil Murphy, (D) District 20 - Mayville) "I'd like to see the oil counties be able to keep a greater share. I think the formula, we're going to have to tweak that, and I presume that's going to happen."

(Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Economic Development Director) "On these kind of tours, I probably do two or three of them a week, sometimes with legislators, sometimes with investors, sometimes with just people that are interested. And without question people are just overwhelmed, almost in a positive way too.

Veeder says it's good to show legislators the good things that can happen in a booming economy.

The state legislature meets again in January and is likely to be considering many bills impacting the funding of counties and cities struggling to deal with the oil boom.


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