Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

Can gays legally be fired in North Dakota just because they are gay? Someone said that a person can be fired just for that reason, and I just find it hard to believe.

Raymond Mason

Fargo

Thanks for writing! Before I answer your question, I just wanted to let my readers know this is my last Ask Your Government column. As you’re reading this, I’ve finished the first week of my doctoral program — only three more years to go.

Now, back to business. Here’s what Labor Commissioner Tony Weiler said in response to your question:

“Sexual orientation is not a protected category under state human rights laws or under federal law. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), however, is litigating some cases and arguing the firing is still based on sex and is having some success.

“So, the answer is: It will depend on the circumstances but, under state law, generally, the answer is yes.”

I then asked Barry Nelson of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition if he wanted to provide a response. Here’s what he said:

“In North Dakota, workers can be fired ‘at will’ for a myriad of reasons. You can be fired because your boss doesn’t like your haircut and, yes, you can be fired solely because of who you have a committed and loving relationship with.

“Even though there is a human rights law in North Dakota, it does not specifically note sexual orientation as a ‘protected class,’ meaning that someone who is gay can be fired solely for that reason with impunity for the employer.

“This extends to housing as well. A landlord could legally evict someone from their housing or refuse to rent to someone because they are gay in North Dakota.

“The North Dakota Human Rights Coalition has advocated time and again for legislation that would protect all North Dakotans, no matter who they love, from infringements on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“An attempt to pass legislation in the 2009 legislative session to include sexual orientation as a protected class from discrimination under North Dakota law was passed in the North Dakota Senate but defeated in the House of Representatives.

“The North Dakota Human Rights Coalition will continue to fight for all North Dakota residents, recognizing that its residents currently can be discriminated against with impunity.”

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

Is the North Dakota interstate system a two-lane highway, or is the left lane considered the passing lane? I understand that slow moving traffic should drive on the right-hand lane. I sometimes like to drive in the left lane, but only if I am not interfering with the traffic flow or driving at least the speed limit. A few years back, I was taught at a driver’s ed class that the North Dakota interstate is a two-lane highway, and you may drive on either lane and pass in either lane.

Thanks

Guy Mischel

Dickinson

Thanks for writing! Sgt. Tom Iverson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol’s Southwest Region answered this question. Here’s what he said:

“The North Dakota interstate system is considered a four-lane highway. It is further broken down to describe each side as a two-lane one-way roadway. Section 39-10-08 subsection 2 of the North Dakota Century Code states that any vehicle proceeding less than the normal speed of traffic must be driven in the right hand lane thus to not interfere with traffic proceeding at the normal speed limit. 

“As long as you are not interfering with the traffic proceeding at the normal speed limit, it is permissible to drive and pass in either the left or right lane.”

 

Dear Teri,

There is so much concern about different issues in the media right now with immigration and the vote in the upcoming November election, concerns for who’s getting what votes. My question is that if all these immigrants are illegals and aren’t citizens, why are they allowed to vote?

Thank you.

Carol Ryum

Jamestown

Thanks for writing! I talked to Secretary of State Al Jaeger about this. Here’s what he said:

“The qualifications for voting in North Dakota are that the person must be a United States citizen, 18 years of age and have lived in the precinct at least 30 days prior to the election. 

“Although a voter is asked to provide identification prior to voting, there is no requirement under state law that they have to present a birth certificate or proof of citizenship. Regardless, it is unlawful for a noncitizen to vote and, if it is discovered that they have, he or she is subject to criminal prosecution.

“I recently attended the summer conference of the National Association of Secretaries of State where this topic was discussed extensively. It is a very complex issue, and all states are trying to address it.

“While it is important to have laws and procedures in place to ensure that only qualified United States citizens are allowed to vote, it is also important that these same safeguards do not inadvertently disenfranchise a qualified citizen from his or her right to vote.”

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

Most of us are aware that North Dakota is running a huge surplus, due largely to oil revenue.  Yet in the past, there have been times when oil prices have dropped drastically, drying up oil money. What kind of surplus or deficit would the state be running today without oil revenue?

George Hahn

West Fargo

Thanks for writing! As I recently reported, the state is expected to have more than $2 billion in surplus and reserves by June 30, the end of the biennium. I sent your question to the Tax Department and to the Office of Management and Budget. Tax Commissioner Cory Fong sent their collaborated response, which addresses the surplus portion:

“The short answer to this question is that oil and gas taxes do not directly affect the general fund budget surplus, which is currently projected at $850 million. The general fund is a melting pot of state revenues from a variety of taxes, fees and transfers.

“The Legislature has attempted to reduce the volatility of oil and gas taxes on the general fund by limiting the amount deposited in the general fund to no more than $300 million per biennium.  Two-thirds of that amount has already been deposited in the general fund; the remaining $100 million will be in the next few months. 

“Because the general fund share of oil and gas taxes is limited by the statutory cap, additional oil and gas tax collections have no impact on the surplus. 

“There is no question oil activity affects other general fund taxes. Due to the complexities of the tax types, though, we are unable to make any definitive determination as to how much is directly attributable to the oil industry.

“A portion of sales, motor vehicle, individual income and corporate income taxes are related to oil activity, but the exact amount varies by tax type and, in most cases, is impossible to determine. For example, a farmer who receives oil and gas income will continue to file a tax return listing agriculture as the source of income, making it impossible to correctly attribute a portion of their personal income taxes to oil activity. For other tax types, such as gaming, tobacco, insurance premiums and liquor, there may likely be some relationship to oil and gas activity, but it would be even more difficult to quantify.

“We also know there has been substantial economic growth across the entire state, not just in the west. Eastern North Dakota has seen substantial expansion in their economic base contributing to the state’s positive financial status.

“Further complicating the issue, a significant portion of the current budget surplus, over $330 million, can be attributed to additional revenues and transfers that occurred in the previous fiscal year and resulted in a higher than anticipated beginning balance for the current budget period.”

So, that addresses the surplus. It’s a little easier to see the impact of oil revenue when you’re talking about the state’s reserves, which added up to $1.2 billion at the end of May. These are funds that have special rules related to how and when they can be spent.

For example, the money in the state’s Legacy Fund comes entirely from oil tax revenue. The State Treasurer’s Office said there was $446.3 million in the account as of July.

The Legacy Fund receives 30 percent of oil and gas tax revenue and will continue to grow. Money from this fund can’t be spent until 2017.

Money in the property tax relief fund also comes from oil tax revenue. The fund is allowed to grow to $341.8 million and reached that mark in June.

The foundation aid stabilization fund—which had a balance of $204 million at the end of May—receives 10 percent of the state’s extraction tax revenue, so this is another fund benefitting from oil.

Interest from this fund is transferred to the general fund, where it can be used for any state appropriation. The principal can only be spent under the governor’s order to offset foundation aid reductions to schools as a result of a revenue shortfall.

So, like many questions I get related to oil taxes, there isn’t a simple answer.

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

I recently read an article regarding oil money for the people of the state of North Dakota. I live in Hannaford, N.D., and even though it is a town of about 130 people, we live on a very popular BNSF rail line. A 110-car train comes through this town every 45 minutes or so.

With the increase of oil production in the western half of the state, trains carrying 100 cars of petroleum have become a regular sight to see since the boom. Even though we are on the eastern side of North Dakota, is there any way our fire department could get money to improve our trucks or equipment?

Thanks,

Marc Haaland

Hannaford

Thanks for writing! I went two routes with providing an answer. The first has to do with the state’s energy impact grants (which I think are what you’re inquiring about) and then what other help may be available.

It’s true the state Land Board has provided money to help fire departments impacted by the rapid growth that has come along with oil activity. However, energy impact grants have been limited to the 17 oil- and gas-producing counties in western North Dakota.

The biggest reasons for this are: these counties are seeing the greatest impacts of the oil activity, there is limited funding available and most of the money for these grants came from within these counties in the first place.

Here’s the back story:

State law directs oil and gas impact grants to be provided to cities, counties, townships, school districts and other taxing districts impacted by energy development and production, said Lance Gaebe, director of the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office.

Applications from North Dakota counties with active drilling rigs and oil and gas production receive primary consideration for funding, he said.

The majority of the money for this grant program comes from a tax that oil companies operating in these counties have to pay to the state.

The Legislature agreed to set aside $100 million of this tax revenue to help oil counties with energy impacts. Legislators later approved another $35 million in general fund money after seeing the need for more funding.

Although $135 million is a relatively big chunk of money, state officials get requests from the 17 oil counties for millions and millions of more dollars than are available. (As a side note, just a few years ago, there was $8 million available for this program until western North Dakota convinced the Legislature it wasn’t enough.)

Earlier this year, the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office received requests for $40.4 million in grants during the emergency services funding round, which included fire departments. Granted, not all of these requests met the emergency services criteria, but most did.

The Land Board ended up approving $12 million in grants to benefit emergency services, with $7.45 million specifically benefitting fire departments and joint law enforcement/fire/ambulance projects.

Gaebe said an additional $4 million will be awarded to emergency response services starting this fall. The remaining energy impact money primarily goes to help with infrastructure needs, especially within the oil cities to support housing growth.

Gaebe said state officials consider the following when awarding grants: how much the need is a result of direct oil and gas development; readiness of the project for implementation; health, welfare and safety considerations; and financial need.

Those who do get a grant still have to come up with a portion of the cost of the project.

Since this program isn’t of immediate help for your area, I also contacted North Dakota Firefighter’s Association Executive Director Renee Loh. Here’s what she said:

“There are programs for grant requests. However, fire departments across the nation are having the same issues, leading to a probable reduction in the chances of receiving grant awards.

“Some of the grants that are available in North Dakota are: Assistance to Firefighter Grant, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, volunteer fire department grants through the North Dakota Forest Service, private grants such as WSI’s ergonomic grant, Department of Emergency Services grants and, of course, the tremendous energy impact grants.

“The Firefighter’s Association sends out immediate information on any possible funding sources. It is worthy to report that many more fire departments have sent in requests recently and, when they call for advice in filling out the forms, we assist them with understanding how to respond to the grant application and what the peer reviewers will be looking for in the grant request. 

“When I received your email, the first thought was, ‘This question posed to you could have been written by any fire department in North Dakota.’  The dynamics have changed across North Dakota’s landscape and, in some ways, each fire department in North Dakota has been touched. 

“There are chemicals that are being trucked, railed and transported throughout the state that have brought the fire departments to a greater level of incident responsibility. And the difficulty is that the fire departments are not as prepared, and they would like to be, but they do not have the financial resources. 

“It is vital that the fire departments receive support so that there are an increased number of trained, frontline firefighters that are available to respond in the North Dakota communities.  With continued state growth, the incidents will continue to grow.”

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

I was wondering why the state doesn’t have any signs on the interstates letting drivers know of services offered at the next exit. Tourist and local travelers find this helpful whether it be food, gas or lodging. Many states offer this, and I’ve always found it helpful. 

Thanks!

Patty Carriere

Fargo

Thanks for writing! Jamie Olson of the North Dakota Department of Transportation gave this response:

“The North Dakota Department of Transportation follows the North Dakota Century Code 24-17, Advertising Adjacent to Highways, which prohibits the use of these types of signs, commonly referred to as ‘logo’ signs. Any exceptions to this would require legislative action.

“Thank you for contacting the North Dakota Department of Transportation.”

After hearing from Jamie, I looked up that state law. It’s four pages long, but here’s the beginning of it:

“It is hereby declared to be in the public interest reasonably to regulate advertising devices along the highways hereinafter specified while, at the same time, recognizing that both the convenience of travel and the interests of the economy as a whole require a reasonable freedom to advertise.

“It is the intention of the legislative assembly in this chapter to provide a statutory basis for the reasonable regulation, but not the prohibition, of outdoor advertising … ”

You can read this entire section at http://legis.nd.gov/cencode/t24c17.pdf.

 

Dear readers,

It’s been my privilege to write this column and help you get answers from your state government officials the past two years.

It’s with mixed feelings that I let you know that I am leaving my job at Forum Communications later this week to pursue a doctorate in another state. I’ve been honored to spend a total of seven years with the company and to get to know so many of you through my work for The Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun and Dickinson Press.

When I first brought up the idea of doing this column, a Capitol reporter in another state told me there was no way it would work in his state. North Dakota is fortunate to have officials willing to take the time to respond to the public.

I want to especially thank Jamie Olson of the North Dakota Department of Transportation for her help. I never dreamed there were so many transportation-related questions of interest to readers, and she’s been terrific about taking the time to answer so many of your questions (including the one featured today).

Without her cooperation, this column would have been in trouble since she answered 20 percent of the questions.

My column will continue to run until the end of August. Thank you all for your great questions these past few years. You can be proud of your role in keeping North Dakota government accountable and transparent.

- Teri Finneman

UPDATED: Dalrymple proposes “unprecedented investment” in infrastructure

BISMARCK—Gov. Jack Dalrymple unveiled a proposal Monday to spend $2.5 billion on state roads and infrastructure during the 2013-15 biennium, calling it an “unprecedented investment.”

The plan calls for additional money to assist the oil- and gas-producing counties in western North Dakota but also addresses needs in the central and eastern portions of the state, Dalrymple said.

The proposal means spending an additional $1 billion on roads and infrastructure next biennium compared to this biennium, he said. The money will come from a mix of federal and state funds, including tax revenue from the oil and gas industry.

“I think the investment represents a tremendous conviction that we need to help our communities. We need to help our economic development, and we need to work for the better quality of life in North Dakota that everybody expects,” Dalrymple said. “In order to do that, we need to invest in our infrastructure more than we ever have before in the coming two years.”

Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor of Towner, who is challenging Dalrymple in the governor’s race, said this kind of investment was needed a year ago.

“We need action not just in an election year but every year, and my dedication to leading on these issues will be there year in and year out,” Taylor said in a statement. “I’m happy to be in this race to force some action on the governor’s office and get North Dakotans the funds they need to have safe, reliable roadways across the state.”

Dalrymple said infrastructure has always been important to his administration. When he entered office in late 2010, he more than doubled the state’s commitment to infrastructure from $609 million to nearly $1.4 billion, he said. Now he plans to ask the Legislature to approve an additional billion.

“I want to make it clear that we will not ask the central parts of the state and the eastern part of the state to sacrifice anything because of the large new investments in western North Dakota,” Dalrymple said. “We will proceed to put together, in the traditional way, our statewide transportation budget and all areas will be entitled to the same kind of funding that they’re accustomed to.”

Under Dalrymple’s plan, there would also be a new $1 billion enhanced road and highway fund for one-time investments. These include extraordinary state highway maintenance projects, truck reliever routes, upgrading two-lane highways to four-lane, underpasses and special assistance to townships.

The majority of this money would be invested in western North Dakota, Dalrymple said.

“But there is funding throughout several of these other pieces that can wind up in other parts of the state as well,” he said.

Dalrymple also proposes revising the oil and gas tax formula that provides money to the oil counties. Under his plan, more money would flow directly to the counties, growing from the now expected $270 million for the 2013-15 biennium to $400 million.

Dalrymple wants to keep the oil and gas impact fund at its current level of $135 million. This money is used to provide grants to cities, townships, emergency services and other political subdivisions in oil-impacted counties.

The plan also includes $145 million for county and township road reconstruction, and a special $100 million distribution to non-oil producing counties.

Dalrymple, a former chairman of House Appropriations, said he believes his proposal can pass the Legislature. There will still be money left over to provide “substantial” tax relief and take care of regular program needs, such as education and human services, he said.

“Sometimes people ask me how this is all possible. How can we possibility take care of all of these investments and have room for tax relief at the same time?” Dalrymple said. “I say it’s because our economy is doing so well, and we do have a great deal of revenue coming in because the economy in North Dakota is the best in the nation.”

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

My husband and I would like to travel to Canada, but want to take our female dog along. What are the requirements for taking her across the border, and what papers do we need? Are there special shots she has to have? Are there different regulations for taking her into Canada and then returning with her to the USA? If we enter from North Dakota, are the requirements for returning through Minnesota or Montana different than North Dakota? Thank you for any information you can give me.

Sally Brovold

Kulm

Thanks for writing! The state Agriculture Department referred me to Larry Schuler, area veterinarian in charge for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Here’s what he said:

“Thanks for the question. For entry into Canada, all dogs greater than 3 months of age must have proof of a rabies vaccination within three years prior to importation.

“This proof can be in the form of a rabies vaccination certificate or the vaccination can be documented on the health certificate, if a health certificate is required. There is an exception granted for assistance dogs certified as a guide, hearing or service dog which accompany their user into Canada.

“Other requirements come into play if the dogs are being moved for commercial purposes, if you have more than two dogs or if they are traveling unaccompanied by the owner. Complete information regarding traveling to Canada with a dog can be found at this website: www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/vs/iregs/animals/downloads/ca_cn.pdf.

“By the way, cats can travel to Canada in much the same way as dogs. Cats must be accompanied by a rabies vaccination certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian clearly identifying the animal and showing that the animal was vaccinated against rabies during the three years immediately preceding importation into Canada.

“The above requirement does not apply to a kitten that is apparently under 3 months of age. The date of the vaccination and the type of the vaccine used must be identified on the rabies vaccination certificate.

“Dogs and cats can return to the U.S. with the same documentation that is required for entry into Canada.

“Regarding returning through other states, your dog or cat should be able to move through each of the states without additional documentation. However, each state may have additional requirements, and it would be wise to contact the state veterinarian in each state that you intend to visit.”

Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

I have heard that the city of New York, and I am assuming other areas as well, have pricing regulations on real estate property, such as rent or housing. Am I correct in this? If so, what is preventing some pricing controls from taking effect in the Oil Patch counties? Thank you. Sincerely,

Craig Kappel

Dickinson

Thanks for writing! I could have asked a variety of people to respond to this. I settled on four state senators with an interest in this topic and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

I’ll start with Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, and his response:

“The short answer is that rent controls are illegal in North Dakota as per state law.

“However, citizens asked me to sponsor legislation establishing rent controls similar to controls in place in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, these same citizens were reluctant to be public about their request, fearing retribution from their landlords and elected officials who saw rent controls as limiting immediate high profits available because of the oil boom.

“Simplistic statewide rent control in the form of a law that makes rent increase illegal does not make sense. But giving authority to cities to limit the amount of increase to the rate of inflation makes sense. It gives the control to local authorities with a practical economic parameter.

“The main point, though, is that energy development in North Dakota has an upside and downside. Where there is a downside, like escalating rents that put people into the street and price gouging, government needs to act.

“This includes developing more housing projects, placing expectations on the energy industry to share the wealth and giving cities the tools to manage housing policy for their citizens. Rent control can be one of those tools for some cities in crisis.”

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, gave this response:

“It does disappoint me when landlords double rents on persons who have rented from them for many years. However, I believe in property rights of the owner. The renting of any property is a private contract between two parties. 

“Any time government steps in and sets limits and set up price control, it ends up being counterproductive. Developers who build apartments and rental property tend not to invest in building when price controls are in place.

“We need to let the free enterprise system work and let the developers build housing to meet the needs of the community. When the rental market reaches a point where there are more apartments than persons that want to rent them, then the price to rent decreases.

“The income tax credit for low-income housing is a program that is available to communities to build low-income housing. It is not the complete answer, but can help meet some of the needs.”

Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor, D-Towner, who is running for governor, said:

“Unfortunately, over a decade ago, the North Dakota Legislature passed a law that deemed rent control illegal, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t begin to talk about other ways the state can help reduce the rent burden of the people living in oil-impacted communities.

“As a state, we need to look at all the options that are on the table to address this issue. Whether it is providing state tax incentives for developers to build affordable housing in the western part of the state, establishing state-run programs that incorporate affordable housing within new and existing units or providing terms from our state-owned Bank of North Dakota to property owners that keep rents at a reasonable rate.

“With our state’s substantial surplus comes a responsibility, and the fiscal ability, to take care of our own. Addressing the rent crisis in western North Dakota is a good place to start.”

I also talked to Sen. Stan Lyson, R-Williston. He said he knows the increasing cost of rent is a problem, but he has concerns about regulating free enterprise.

“Because where do you stop? Do we start to regulate the price they put on gasoline or the price they put on milk or bread or any type of groceries?” he said.

Residential construction continues in Williston and is starting to catch up, he said.

“I honestly believe, as we catch up … rent is going to start coming down,” Lyson said.

Here’s what North Dakota Housing Finance Agency Executive Director Mike Anderson said:

“Section §47-16-02.1 of the North Dakota Century Code prohibits a political subdivision from enacting, maintaining or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that restricts the amount of rent charged for leasing private residential or commercial property.

“The prohibition does not extend to a political subdivision (a city, county or local housing authority, for example) from restricting rents on property it owns.

“The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency administers programs that have been active in creating apartments in North Dakota set aside for households of modest means. The common characteristic of these rental programs is that rents are restricted to be affordable for lower-income individuals and families.

“In response to North Dakota’s growing need for affordable housing, the state legislative assembly, during the 2011 session, approved the Housing Incentive Fund program to help address the need for affordable multifamily rental housing development.

“The fund is capitalized by contributions from state income taxpayers. In return for supporting the fund, taxpayers earn a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit.

“The money contributed to the fund provides flexible financing to developers who agree to rent to low- and moderate-income households. The program subsidizes a developer’s construction costs, which, in turn, allows the apartments to be rented at lower than market rates.

“To ensure that the housing created through the Housing Incentive Fund remains affordable, the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency requires the property owner to sign a contract agreeing to income and rent restrictions. If the developer breaks the contract, the agency recaptures the state dollars invested into the project.  The length of the term of such an agreement runs from 15 to 30 years.

“Ninety percent of the $15 million Housing Incentive Fund tax credit authority is designated for use in disaster and energy-impacted communities. The housing finance agency anticipates the program will support the development of approximately 800 rental units.

“Prior to the fund, the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program was the largest resource for affordable rental housing development in North Dakota. The program produces approximately 200 to 300 rental units per year.”

Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

Sharing oil taxes

BISMARCK — How much money North Dakota’s oil- and gas-producing counties should get to help pay for all the needs that have come with rapid growth promises to be one of the biggest issues of the 2013 legislative session. (Click on image to enlarge).

Western North Dakota officials have spent recent months letting legislators know they need more money to address oil and gas impacts despite the $1.2 billion set aside to help the 17 counties with road, water, housing and other needs during the 2011-13 biennium.

One topic certain to generate discussion during the 2013 Legislature is whether the oil counties should be able to keep more of the tax revenue generated by their oil activity.

A complex formula now determines how much gross production tax revenue goes back to the counties and how much goes into assorted state accounts, including a voter-approved state Legacy Fund that collects 30 percent of oil tax revenue for the future.

Williston City Commission Vice President Brad Bekkedahl said the issue with the current formula is that as production grows, the state gets a higher percentage of the revenue.

With the level of production Williams County has currently, the state gets 90 percent of the gross production tax and 10 percent goes back to the county.

City leaders hope legislators will adjust the formula during the next session, said Bekkedahl, who is the city’s finance commissioner.

“It makes little sense to us out here that deal with the impacts that you get busier but you get less of the money,” Bekkedahl said. “It’s not enough to keep up with what’s happening.”

House Appropriations Chairman Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, said potential changes to the tax formula will depend on the makeup of the Legislature after the fall election.

There are two ways to approach the oil counties’ financial needs: revising the tax formula to let more money go directly to the counties or having the Legislature determine how much state money to spend on western infrastructure and needs, he said.

“I’m sure there will be people on both sides of that issue,” Delzer said. “In general, as long as the revenue keeps coming in the way it is, there’s certainly going to be spending on infrastructure whether it’s done through the counties or through the state.”

Amy Dalrymple contributed to this report.