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‘Biden Bucks’ talks to start Tuesday

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 4:01 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Starting Tuesday, state lawmakers will begin shuffling through all the proposals for the one billion dollars in federal COVID aid.

The state received the money during the spring, and has received billions of dollars in proposals from state agencies. Now, it’s up to the lawmakers to make the plan.

Lawmakers will have a full plate next month as they try to tackle two major projects: COVID aid and redistricting the state legislature.

With a new map already endorsed and being drafted to vote on, their attention turns to the billion dollars sitting in the Bank of North Dakota.

”We are doing exactly what that old joke says: we are building an airplane while we are flying it. We don’t know what the final product is going to be. We’re going to be putting it together as we go,” said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks.

The next week will be spent going over the proposals from state agencies, and lawmakers will decide who gets what amounts.

”Let’s face it: a lot of the industries and infrastructure have been affected by COVID. A lot of the ideas that I’ve seen are ideas that were submitted to the legislature, went through the vetting process of the legislature, and were voted on in the chambers and passed. So, those ideas have already been worked through,” said Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck.

Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., and State Democrats have unveiled their plans as well. Both put focus on economic development and childcare. With disagreements expected, some expect the November session to take more than a week.

”We’re talking about one billion-plus dollars and we’re talking about redistricting the legislature. I think there ought to be two special sessions, myself,” said Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo.

Ultimately, it will be Republican lawmakers in the driver’s seat, because they hold the majority in both chambers.

But the governor has said he will use the veto if he finds it necessary.

Some estimates have proposals up to eight billion dollars, which would be nearly double the entire state budget. However, some say many of those requests are duplicates.

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