ND lawmakers hear final pitches for American Rescue Plan Act funding

State News

North Dakota received roughly $1.1 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA.

About $423 million of those dollars have already been allocated, leaving about $700 million left for lawmakers to decide how to spend.

All month, House and Senate appropriations committees have heard more than 100 proposals from state agencies and legislators hoping to get their constituency a cut of the cash.

Here’s a glimpse of some of those proposals.

“My plan is to give $1,293.17 back to every man, woman and child in the state of North Dakota,” Rep. Jeff Magrum (R – Hazelton) said.

But not everybody’s idea will make the cut.

There’s more than $8 billion in proposals but only $697 million to spend, meaning many ideas will be stalled.

“It might just mean that next session will be the more appropriate time for the legislature to mull over it,” Sen. Ray Holmberg (R – Grand Forks) said.

Requests ranged widely. One plan would build a new women’s prison.

“This proposal suggests let’s go forward with a $25 million project looking at serving 70 women,” Sen. Tim Mathern (D – Fargo) said.

Another would renovate the state’s public health lab, which ran out of space this past year due to increased COVID-19 testing.

“We are respectfully requesting $30 million to create a state-of-the-art lab. With this improvement we will be able to address a lot of our constraints,” North Dakota Department of Health Chief Laboratory Officer

Democratic lawmakers focused on funding child care.

“It’s something that we have not invested in, in my opinion, in the state, and I really think that this is one aspect of solving part of the workforce challenge in our state,” Rep. Alisa Mitskog (D – Wahpeton) said.

Wednesday was the final day of hearings before the entire legislature will come back for an abbreviated session to decide on not only ARPA dollars, but redistricting.

“By next week we’ll be ready to build a bill,” Holmberg said.

Lawmakers will soon come up with an omnibus bill encompassing which proposals made the cut. The entire legislature will start debating it Nov. 8 during a special or reconvened special.

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