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Greater North Dakota Chamber and other groups want lawmakers to stick to ARPA funding and redistricting

A number of North Dakota organizations have signed a letter to the Legislature’s Delayed Bills Committees – asking them to focus on the main jobs of next week’s special session – spending the latest round of federal COVID-19 relief money, and redistricting.

The Greater North Dakota Chamber is one of the 36 organizations that signed the letter.

"Many of the policy bills that have been submitted require substantive policy debate, and a very open public process," said GNDC President and CEO Arik Spencer. "It's our fear, at least on behalf of GNDC, that this condensed special session, won't allow that vigorous debate to happen."

Twenty six bills are before the two Delayed Bills committees — 21 in the House, and 5 in the Senate. The bills cover a number of topics, including vaccine mandates, critical race theory and voting security.

Spencer said GNDC’s priorities in the special session are spending on one-time infrastructure projects, money for career academies, and the proposed seed money for a natural gas pipeline to bring Bakken gas to other parts of North Dakota.

"Career academy funding was approved in the 2021 regular session," Spencer said. "But I understand that the funding source approved at that time will not allow the funds to be utilized in the way they were appropriated. So we thought it was appropriate that the issue come back, and be addressed and clarified now."

Spencer said the same is true for funding for infrastructure.

"Those funds were appropriated last session," Spencer said. "But there were some technical problems with how the bill was written, and coming back to address that makes a lot of sense."

The special session begins Monday.