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Summer special session possible

North Dakota lawmakers may be coming back to Bismarck this summer for a special session, dealing only with how to spend federal money coming from the America Recovers Act.

The state will be receiving more than $1 billion.  The question is: How can the state spend those funds?

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said federal guidelines for where the money can be spent haven’t yet been released — and likely won’t be before the regular session ends. Wardner said the plan is to have the House and Senate Appropriations Committees meet between the end of the regular session and a potential special session, to work on spending plans.

"It's just like they do during the regular session, working on legislation to deal with this money, Wardner said.

After that, Wardner said a session could be called in July or August.

"That depends on how quickly we get the information," Wardner said.

The Legislature will be holding a December special session, to deal with redistricting. And the plan was to use that session to deal with the federal money. But Wardner said he wants to move quickly.

"We only have so much time in order to spend it," Wardner said.

Wardner has some thoughts and hopes for the federal money.

"We're not using it for on-going spending," Wardner said. "It's going to be used for one-time spending."

Wardner said he's hoping it could be used for infrastructure, and to take care of an unfunded liability in the state retirement plan.

"That would be really a great thing, if we can get those done," Wardner said.

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