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Bismarck lawmaker offers study of state government-leased property

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A Bismarck lawmaker is proposing a Legislative study of how much property is leased by state government – and who owns that property.

Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) told the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee the study could show how many legislators or state bureaucrats own property the state leases – and whether or not those lawmakers could vote on budget bills for the agencies they lease to.

"If you're leasing to a certain agency, there's an incentive to vote to make sure the agency is fully funded, and perhaps expanding," Becker told the Committee.

Becker said if he thinks there has been any impropriety, he said not at all.

"I don't know of anything," Becker said. "I don't know who owns what. I know that a lot of folks own a lot of property."

Some committee members said the information is there -- but you have to dig to find it, as people set up limited liability corporations or other companies.

Becker said at the very least, this will provide more transparency. And he said with the pandemic causing more state employees to work from home, it’s the perfect time for this kind of a study.

"I really like this resolution," said the committee chairman, Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo). "I think it's long overdue."

The resolution is HCR 3043.

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