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House kills 'Prairie Dog' companion bill

The House has said “no” to a proposed new infrastructure revolving loan fund.

That bill was seen as a companion to the "Prairie Dog" infrastructure bill that has been signed into law.

The fund would have provided loans to communities across the state at 2 percent interest rates.  The loans would be repaid to the fund, which would be administered by the Bank of North Dakota. The bill would have provided up to $500 million.

House Appropriations Committee chairman Jeff Delzer (R-Underwood) said the debt service would be $55 million every two years. Delzer said that would bind the next 15 Legislatures to pay off that debt service.

"We passed the Prairie Dog bill earlier," Delzer told the House. "If something happens, and we don't have the money, we can get out of that if we have to. If we pass a bonding bill, we have to stand up and say we're willing to cover that bond. I don't think that's anything we want to do to future legislatures."

A bill supporter, Rep. Thomas Beadle (R-Fargo), conceded that the $55 million is a lot of money.

"But it's less than one percent of what our general fund expenditures are," Beadle said. "This isn't a tremendous amount of debt, and it's not saddling the state with something we can't afford."

The bill failed on a 55 to 34 vote.

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