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Capitol rent plan, state employees working remotely, to be studied


A proposal by Gov. Burgum to charge agencies rent for their space in the Capitol tower is being turned into a study.

Burgum has said this could reduce space in both the tower and in property the state rents around Bismarck. And he said it will allow some state employees to continue to work from home when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

"Working from home has to be vetted a little better," said Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks).

The study would have two prongs -- one concerning work from home, the other dealing with rentals state agencies have around Bismarck.

"The basis for that, as I understand from the Governor's staff, is that he believes this would make the agencies' footprint smaller, and maybe bring people from rental areas around Bismarck into the Capitol," said Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford), who is also on the Appropriations Committee.

Heckaman said she supports a study.

"We're spending a lot on rent out in the Bismarck-Mandan area," Heckaman said. "I understand it's necessary for some people who make their living renting out real estate. But I think people working together in one common area provides a little bit more connectiveness."

"We need to be assured that servce to the taxpayer is working, in situations where people are working from home," Holmberg said. "If the service is there, I don't lose a lot of sleep. But if the service suffers, we have to be aware of that."

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