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Agencies given 6 minutes to make billion-dollar pitch

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - North Dakota lawmakers have begun the process of assigning $1 billion in federal aid. However, the requests total eight times what’s actually available.

A smattering of backgrounds and needs come to the Capitol for what they describe as urgent funding needs. And some are still debating how much of the funding to actually use.

And with that clack of the gavel, one billion dollars is up for grabs. On two ends of the Capitol, leaders in both chambers open the floor for agencies to make their pitches for federal aid.

“We are breaking this down. We’ve had a lot of discussion about how can we make sure that every one of the 200 proposals get their day in court. Every proposal, whether it was from the governor or a legislator, will get two bites at the apple,” said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks.

In order to get through the 192 proposals within a few days, legislative management split up the requests between two committees: one hundred requests went to the House and the other hundred to the Senate. Each agency was given six minutes to make their pitch to lawmakers.

“What the Legislature is working with is unprecedented, and so it’ll be an interesting next several weeks as these legislators do their work, and try and do their best to manage these funds that are available,” said Justin Kringstad, North Dakota Pipeline Authority director.

As the debate over what to spend on continues, there’s also debate over how much will be available. Due to the rules on spending changing, roughly $400 million is already claimed to fund projects approved during the last session. A unique process for a unique circumstance.

Legislators will be listening to proposals for the next few days. Next week, the two chambers will switch proposals so that both sides can see the same proposals. Then after that, lawmakers start putting the pieces together.

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