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Politics & Government

Legislature approves new Governor's residence

A bill to build a new Governor’s residence is on its way to Governor Dalrymple for his signature.

The House passed the bill 69 to 22 today. Yesterday, the Senate passed it 28 to 19.

The bill would set aside $5 million for a new residence. $4 million would come from the Capitol Grounds building fund.

"The Governor's residence should be the people's house," said Sen. Nichole Poolman (R-Bismarck). "A place to honor and host our citizens. But it can't be open to the people if it is not accessible to the people. "

Poolman says the bill provides safety, security and accessibility to the First Family and the residents of North Dakota.

The proposal also contains a big area for entertaining up to 75 people. And Sen. Carolyn Nelson (D-Fargo) says that’s not necessary – because the Heritage Center is close, and is a beautiful facility for those kinds of gatherings.

"If we're going to build a house for the Governor, it should be a house for the Governor, not a place for entertainment," said Nelson.

The group “Friends of the Residence” would have to raise another $1 million. The private fundraising portion bothered Rep. Tracy Boe (D-Minot).

"I don't know that, in the days of our billion dollars budgets, that we have to go out and compete against all the other noble charities to suck up $1 million for our Governor's mansion," Boe said during House debate.

But Rep. Bob Skarphol (R-Tioga) liked that concept.

"It will require the endorsement by the public as well," said Skarphol.

The bill also contains money to tear down the existing residence. And it budgets $50,000 for temporary housing for the state’s First Family.