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'Prairie Dog' bill sponsor hoping for movement in a House committee

One of the sponsors of the infrastructure funding bill – dubbed “Operation Prairie Dog” – is hoping the bill will be out of the House Finance and Tax Committee sometime this week.

The bill creates a new bucket of oil tax money for local subdivisions and airports across the state to access for their infrastructure needs.

Rep. Mike Nathe (R-Bismarck) said some amendments have been prepared, and will be given to that committee. He said once it gets out of that committee, then House Appropriations will get its crack at the measure.

"Obviously, those buckets may not fill up until the fall of 2020 or even 2021," Nathe said. "That will depend on oil production, oil price and the economy."

Nathe said the cities and counties know that.

"I'm very confident the money will be there," Nathe said.

The price tag is $280 million.

Nathe said there has been some talk about adding a "sunset clause" to the bill, meaning it would have a set expiration date. But he said everyone who testified before the Finance and Tax Committee had the same message.

"We need consistency," Nathe said. "Keep that sunset clause off."

Nathe said it was the same debate when the concept of "hub cities" in the oil patch was debated.

"The cities and counties need to be able to plan for the money," Nathe said. "It shouldn't be hanging."

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