Senate update: Fargo flood funding, oil impact grants, tourism

BISMARCK—The North Dakota Senate approved $30 million for Fargo flood control on Thursday.

The funding for the next two years is included in the State Water Commission budget.

The bill also includes $250,000 for flood-related projects in Nelson County and a $250,000 grant for Wildlife Services for animal control. The budget includes $200,000 for the Game and Fish Department for law enforcement on sovereign lands in the state.

Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, said there’s “good and necessary” funding in the bill, but he has concerns about Fargo’s flood diversion project.

“I have never been convinced yet that we can do this project without having some negative impacts on our downstream citizens,” he said. “I hope those concerns will be in the minds of those working on this project as it moves forward and that we can keep in mind that we must minimize and hopefully eliminate downstream impacts on those citizens.”

The bill passed on a 42-4 vote. It now moves to the House.

Oil impact grants

The Senate also approved a bill to designate a portion of oil and gas impact grant money to small cities and counties.

Senate Bill 2132 sets aside $8 million per biennium from the fund for cities with fewer than 7,500 people and counties with fewer than 10,000 people.

The maximum grant to a city or county is $500,000 per biennium, with the local government needing to provide matching dollars.

Cities and counties applying for grants would need to provide a project proposal that includes information on how ongoing expenses for maintenance, utilities and other continuing costs will be funded.

Cities and counties eligible for grant funds under this proposal would remain eligible for other grant funds

“There’s a lot of communities that need help, and this bill will provide some help for them,” said Sen. Bill Bowman, R-Bowman.

The bill passed on a 44-2 vote. It now moves to the Senate.

Tourism

The Senate also approved studying the feasibility of developing a partnership between the state Tourism Division and the tourism departments of the state’s Indian tribes.

Legislators hope joint planning and marketing could substantially boost tourism by featuring American Indian activities and attractions of interest to international and out-of-state tourists.

Supporters say the partnership could also lead to increased economic development in rural North Dakota and for the Indian tribes.

The proposal now moves to the House.

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