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House Committee considers Legacy Fund investment change

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The House Finance and Taxation Committee is looking at a bill requiring the state Investment Board to invest 20 percent of the Legacy Fund into the state of North Dakota.

The bill’s sponsor – Rep. Mike Nathe (R-Bismarck) – said half of that would go into fixed income products, and the other 10 percent would be invested in equity, helping businesses raise capital.

"As we know, the energy sector and the tech sector are having a hard time getting capital in this state," Nathe said in an interview. "This bill will help provide that capital to these industries, and hopefully build them, provide more jobs, a higher GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and higher sales taxes."

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread has been a proponent of the idea. He told the House Finance and Taxation Committee finding capital is a real issue for companies, and especially start-ups.

"If we don't address the capital gap, it's going to be losing them (start-ups) on steriods," Godfread told the Committee. "We're going to be able to point to a lot of companies that started in Grand Forks or Fargo, and say, 'Man -- remember that company down in Denver now? They started here. Isn't that great?' Yeah, that's great -- but can't we keep them here?"

The chief executive officer of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation, Connie Ova,  told the Committee a recent public opinion survey showed overwhelming support for investing Legacy Fund money within the state.

"The voters want dramatic changes made to the policies of the State Investment Board, when it comes to investing the principle of the Legacy Fund," Ova said. "The people want the funds invested to grow and diversify our own economy, not the economies of other states and countries."

The Committee has not yet taken action on the bill.

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