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Legislative leaders: Decisions on spending new COVID relief money will come in Dec.

North Dakota Legislators are preparing for a December special session to deal with redrawing legislative district boundaries.

But there will likely be another subject – how to deal with the new COVID relief money coming from the federal government.

Legislative leaders had hoped to deal with some of the projected $1.3 billion the state will receive from the American Rescue Act.

"I visited with our Legislative Council fiscal staff, and they said they're not sure they will have the guidelines for spending the money by the end of the session," said House Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R-Carrington). "It puts more pressure on the redistricting session."

But Pollert said the leadership wanted to build in a few days in December to deal with the money.

Right now, it looks like we'll have our appropriations committees stay intact during that time, and they would work on those budget issues with the federal dollars," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "That's so when we get to the redistricting session, we have a plan."

Wardner said he still would like to save as many days as possible for the December session. He said there’s an informal target date of April 23rd for adjourning the regular session. But Pollert said he doesn't know if saving 10 days is possible.

"Ten would be great, but we'd be lucky if we could hold back seven or eight," Pollert said.

The session will be held in December, because the new Census Data won’t be available until the end of September. A redistricting committee is planning to hold a series of hearings around the state before a plan is presented to that special session.

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