Senate subcommittee mostly restores Highway Patrol budget

BISMARCK–A Senate subcommittee has mostly restored the Highway Patrol budget to the governor’s recommendation.

Back in the budget are the three new positions to enforce size and weight limitations of trucks in western North Dakota and the three positions cut from the agency’s current staffing level. These positions were cut by the House.

The subcommittee also voted to restore $2 million for an emergency vehicle operations course that the House cut from the budget. However, funding for an indoor weapons training range was not restored.

Sen. Karen Krebsbach, R-Minot, said the subcommittee felt the driving range was important for safety reasons.

The current track is a parking lot between the Bismarck Community Bowl and the Aquatics and Wellness Center. Due to increased traffic flow on campus and increased pedestrian traffic, as well as other safety concerns, the Highway Patrol felt it was no longer a viable location.

“The track, we felt, was very important to get that done,” Krebsbach said.

As for the shooting range, Krebsbach said there are places where shooting can be done, and legislators are watching investment dollars. Subcommittee members advised the Highway Patrol that funding could be granted in future sessions.

Funding for State Fleet Services mileage was increased to reflect an estimated mileage rate of 64 cents per mile for Highway Patrol vehicles. The governor’s recommendation provided funding for a rate of 61 cents. The House recommended 58 cents.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee will review the bill and then the full Senate.