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'Operation Prairie Dog' passes the House

Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck)

“Operation Prairie Dog” has passed its first test.

The measure provides oil tax money for cities, counties and townships for infrastructure projects, by creating a new "bucket" for those tax collections. It cleared the House on an 80 to 12 vote.

"This is money well spent," said the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Mike Nathe (R-Bismarck). "This is an investment back into the communities of North Dakota."

Some House members worried that the fund should not be permanent, and have a "sunset clause." And Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) dismissed it as a "get re-elected bill."

"When the money isn't there anymore, the cities and counties are going to be crying that we cut them," Becker said. "Now what are they going to do? They're going to raise taxes."

The measure will be considered in the Senate after crossover.

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