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Politics & Government

House changes make-up of Heritage Fund advisory board

The House has passed a change in the makeup of an advisory board for the new state Heritage conservation fund.

Earlier, the Legislature passed a bill that could put aside 15 million dollars a year in oil taxes for conservation projects. It said the state’s Industrial Commission would manage the fund – and it set up an advisory committee. A companion Senate bill said the advisory panel would have four members representing the conservation community – one each from Ducks Unlimited, the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust Fund and Pheasants Forever – with one at large.

The House changed that – so all four of those members would be at large.

Rep. Scot Kelsh (D-Fargo) fought the change.

"The important issue is to protect our legacy and promote conservation," said Kelsh "We could do well to name the prominent organizations that were a part of crafting this. If anyone is paying attention, they may be more inclined to take the issue to the ballot because of this."

Rep. Todd Porter (R-Mandan) says the groups have already indicated they would continue to work on a ballot measure – to spend more money on conservation. Porter says that’s at odds with what the Legislature passed.

"They still want to buy land," said Porter. "They still want to secure easements. They still want to spend money out of state. And they still want to appropriate money without legislative oversight. So you tell me whether they should be on there or not."

The change passed 68 to 26. The bill now goes back to the Senate – to see if it agrees with the House amendments.

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