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Published April 15, 2013, 10:57 PM

Legislature will set renewed focus on oil patch funding

The North Dakota legislature canceled its session today because of the spring snowstorm. Once lawmakers return, there will be a lot of focus on the issue of returning money to oil impacted areas. Senators have removed one third of the money in the oil impact bill, creating a lot of frustration.

By: Donnell Preskey, KX News

The North Dakota legislature canceled its session today because of the spring snowstorm. Once lawmakers return, there will be a lot of focus on the issue of returning money to oil impacted areas. Senators have removed one third of the money in the oil impact bill, creating a lot of frustration.

Funding for oil impacted areas is a top prioritiy this legislative session, but a recent move by the Senate has many people wondering how much money will flow back to the area suffering the most impacts from the oil development.

Sen. Dwight Cook / (R) Mandan: "Everybody recognizes the needs that our oil producing counties have. And recognize there will be a lot of money going to those counties to address those needs. The process that this thing is going through is just that, it's a process."

While Representative Dave Drovdal understands the process, he knows others back home are confused.

Drovdal: "The perception is the support isn't there. Are we going to get nickled and dimed again?"

In fact, Drovdal says in his 20 years in the legislature he's never seen so much negative reaction over a bill as with the cuts to 1358.

Drovdal: "My concern is that's a budget that's going to get cut to balance the budget, that means we will take the crumbs and be last on the list."

There are seven other bills that currently include funding earmarked for oil country. Senator Cook is going through those bills...

Cook: "If we are going to spend $1 billion, I want to put some problems to rest, I want them to go away. We send a lot of money out there and haven't put problems to rest."

While the days lawmakers have left to act are numbered, Cook says have patience. As for Drovdal, he's pushing to be on the conference committee that looks at the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Drovdal: "My friends in accidents, responding to accidents, I want to be on that committee because I can answer the questions, show the needs because I've been there.""

Senator Cook says in the end lawmakers hope to have one billion dollars in money for oil country. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill early this week.

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