Received from the four western North Dakota legislators who want to see a special session called to address infrastructure needs in the oil counties and cities:
June 24, 2010
Governor Hoeven, through his spokesperson Don Canton has dismissed our call for a special session without even a moment of consideration for our points. Canton says that the Governor says, that there is no need to go into special session now because the state has already addressed the situation in oil country. Canton promptly discusses $50 million coming from federal leases, but fails to disclose that through a formula in the Flood Control Act, 50% must go to schools and 25% went to certain townships and only the last 25% to counties.
We say to Canton, let us talk to the Governor. In our letter we requested a meeting to visit about these important issues. Our intent has been criticized by some Republicans as a political ploy, but the fact is, our constituents need the state’s help now. We offered an example of an emergency measure that could provide immediate support to the region for counties that cannot borrow against future taxes. We know that a special session is not likely to be the time for a comprehensive solution. It’s purpose is to bring some relief immediately where the need is great and the solutions are too far into the future.
We also presented the Governor with a plan for a special session that followed the template used by Gov. Schaffer in the 1994 special session. A disciplined plan is necessary to ensure that such a special session not be distracted by extraneous issues. Long term solutions can and must be addressed in the regular session.
In North Dakota, the Governor has limited powers. He can authorize some bonding authority as he has done with Williston for housing, but the solutions for our part of the oil patch are not found in this authority. Any supplemental appropriation to provide counties and townships with upfront funds based on expected revenues must be done by the legislature.
Some have suggested that Dunn and Mountrail County should have complained earlier like Williston. This is ludicrous. Our counties did come before the last legislative session in 2009 because they anticipated what would happen to their roads. The legislature provided a small portion of support, but certainly not adequate to deal with the problems at hand.
Governor Hoeven’s dismissal of our request is more than disappointing.
Representative Kenton Onstad, Parshall
Senator John Warner, Ryder
Representative Tom Conklin, Douglas
Representative Shirley Meyer, Dickinson