NDCGA Special Session Report
October 26, 2023

Special Session Wraps Up

North Dakota lawmakers adjourned the special session on Wednesday, Oct. 25, utilizing just three days to consider 14 reworked pieces of legislation from SB 2015, the appropriation package for the Office of Management and Budget bill, a Senate concurrent resolution in support of the nation of Israel, and a standalone bill to increase income tax relief. Governor Burgum signed all 14 bills approved by the Legislature.

The income tax relief bill was proposed by the Governor and introduced by a two-thirds vote by the House floor. The bill, HB 1549, modified income tax brackets to increase the amount of North Dakotans’ taxable income that is subject to the 0% tax rate. The bill brought a considerable amount of discussion but ultimately failed in a Senate 16-31 vote.

NDCGA legislative staff monitored the following bills during the special session:

HB 1541 – Legislative Assembly Appropriations
HB 1541 includes a provision requiring Budget Section approval for projects that utilize more than $10 million from the Flexible Transportation Fund unless there is a federal or private match and the amount utilized from the Fund is 50% or less of the total project costs. The Joint Appropriations Committee approved amendments of $425,000 for special session costs and $255,000 for Legislative Council costs due to the special session and passed the amended bill 34-1. The bill passed the House floor 77-14 and the Senate floor 42-5.

HB 1544 – Department of Commerce Appropriations

HB 1544 includes a $2 million appropriation to defray operating expenses for the newly created Office of Legal Immigration. The bill was passed by the Joint Appropriations Committee 35-2; it passed the House floor 72-17 and the Senate floor 87-2.

Governor Burgum partially vetoed HB 1544, specifically the provision requiring the North Dakota Development Fund to obtain a recommendation for approval from the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority before providing financing for projects that enhance production of clean sustainable energy in North Dakota.

HB 1546
– Fertilizer Development Policy

According to HB 1546, the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority (CSEA) shall develop a fertilizer development incentive program with funding limited to $125 million. An eligible fertilizer production facility must 1) be located in North Dakota, 2) be owned by an entity domiciled in the US or Canada, 3) borrow money under a program administered by the Bank of North Dakota, and 4) use hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water. Upon completion of the construction of the fertilizer facility, the CSEA shall immediately forgive the loan using fertilizer development incentive funding.

NDCGA provided written testimony in favor of HB 1546 and co-signed testimony provided by the North Dakota Farmers Union on behalf of a coalition of agricultural organizations in support. After extensive discussion, the Joint Policy Committee passed HB 1546 in its original form 23-5. All proposed amendments were defeated. The bill then passed the House floor 60-30 and the Senate floor 40-7.

Fertilizer development is a topic to watch for the next regular session. Many legislators expressed interest in increasing fertilizer production capacity in North Dakota.

SB 2393 Office of Management and Budget Appropriations

SB 2393 includes a $30 million transfer to the North Dakota Development Fund. The bill was passed by the Joint Appropriations Committee 32-3; it passed the Senate floor 46-1 and the House floor 82-7.

SB 2394 – Office of the Governor and Adjutant General Appropriations

SB 2394 was amended to include an additional $106,000 for 2021-23 Snow Removal Grants. Any tribal governments, counties, townships, or cities that did not receive a snow removal grant during the 2021-23 biennium and submitted its application prior to Oct. 20 is eligible for this additional money. The amended bill was passed by the Joint Appropriations Committee 37-0; it passed the Senate floor 47-0 and the House floor 89-0.

SB 2397 – Water Policy

SB 2397 includes two provisions passed in SB 2015. The first provision removes the requirement that all counties must provide a mill levy to joint boards. SB 2372, passed in the 68th legislature, requires all water resource districts to join a joint board and required counties to contribute a mill levy to that joint board when the local board joined the joint board. SB 2015 made the mill levy optional instead of mandatory. The second provision in SB 2397 changes a section of SB 2020, the budget bill for the State Water Commission. In SB 2015, a transfer from the Bank of North Dakota for the Water Infrastructure Revolving Loan
fund was turned into a line of credit. SB 2397 passed without much discussion by the Joint Policy Committee 28-0; it passed the Senate floor 47-0 and the House floor 87-2.

Submitted By
Lesley Icenogle | Clearwater Communications
(701) 355-4458 |