Oil Extraction Tax Bill Passes in Senate

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The issue of how oil extraction should be taxed in the state has been dominating the session this week, and it was no different when it came to the floor in the senate.

"Last Thursday, Mr. President, this bill didn't exist," Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks. "I literally have leftovers in my fridge that are older than this bill and that's not very funny."

"I can't help but think about our decisions, especially in the last few days, and how they have appeared to the general public," said Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck. "The day after we passed a bill to build a $5 million house in Bismarck, here we are voting to cut the oil extraction tax. Something established by the very voters who put us here."

But the bill continued to move forward, despite concerns from the minority party. However, the bill did change from how it was proposed in the House.

This version will take effect if passed, while the house version would have only taken effect if the big trigger hit.

"The effective date of the bill is January 1, 2016," said Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan. "The total tax on oil will go from 11.5 percent to ten percent. December 1, 2015, all triggers are gone."

The majority party says this bill, as amended by the senate, will bring stability to the industry and the way we collect oil taxes in the state.

"The fact is that when the industry takes a look at where they're going to invest their dollars, they look around the United States and they say, 'Are we going to be able to have the stability to make the profits we need to re-invest into the business,'" said Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson.

But democrats say it's a loss of revenue that will be devastating to the state moving forward. In the end, the bill passed 32 to 15, mostly along party lines.

Democrats tried to amend the bill several times. First to change the rate, then to add a sunset clause and study to the bill. Those amendments were rejected.

Because the bill was amended, it will have to go back to the house to consider the changes.