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House addresses Legacy Fund earnings, investments

The North Dakota House has passed a bill outlining what is to be done with Legacy Fund earnings.

The House Appropriations Committee combined ideas from other bills into one vehicle going forward in the Legislative session. It creates a “sinking and interest” fund to meet the debt service for bonding. It also spells out that earnings will go into the state’s Strategic Investment and Improvements fund, the Clean Sustainable Energy Fund, to the Infrastructure Revolving Loan Fund, and some other Legislative purposes.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jeff Delzer (R-Underwood) told the House there’s another pot of money set aside in the bill.

"We want to set aside 20 percent into an income tax relief fund, to start giving the people back something from that (Legacy Fund), Delzer said.

Delzer told the House 40 percent of the earnings would go back into the Fund, to become part of the principal.

Another section of the measure makes suggestions to the next Legislative session about possible spending.

House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D-Fargo) said he had been part of an advisory group that traveled the state, listening to people’s ideas on the Legacy Fund.

"Thinking differently about how we do government, using this as a tool to have creative financing and fund priorities that maybe aren't always popular, but would be good for making North Dakota competitive, are opportunities going forward," Boschee said.

Boschee said he looks forward to working with Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R-Carrington) and the members of the special Legacy Fund Earnings Committee, and continue to listen to North Dakotans about those priorities.

The bill – House Bill 1380 – passed on a 71 to 22 vote. It now goes to the Senate for further work.

The House also passed a measure to use 20 percent of future oil tax collections coming into the fund for in-state investments.

The bill’s supporters say businesses are looking for capital – and this is a way to provide a source for that capital.

"HB 1425 properly recognizes the opportunities we have in our state," said Rep. Glenn Bosch (R-Bismarck). "It recognizes the expertise we have in our state, and gives our state a chance at expansion, economic diversification and growth."

The bill passed 85 to 8. It now goes to the state Senate.

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