ND Lawmakers: ‘nay’ to free school lunches for students, ‘yea’ to more in meal reimbursements for legislators

Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 10:24 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2023 at 8:44 PM CDT
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UPDATED STORY: Legislators boost meal reimbursements after voting down school lunches

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Lawmakers in North Dakota voted to boost their own meal reimbursements just days after they voted against expanding the free lunch program in North Dakota.

The North Dakota Senate voted to approve SB 2124 Thursday, which increases in-state meal reimbursements for state employees, including lawmakers during interim legislative meetings, from $35 per day to $45 per day. The last time per diem for state employees was increased was 2013. Senator Kyle Davison, R-Fargo, said when introducing the bill, “I believe with inflation it’s time to consider an increase.”

Last week, the Senate voted against HB 1491, which would have covered meals for students whose families are between 130% and 200% of the poverty level. For a family of four, that means those making less than about $60,000. Several members of the Senate voted for SB 2124 and against HB 1491.

However, the issue of free school lunches is not yet settled. After the free school lunches bill was defeated, the program was written into a different bill, SB 2284, which was previously unrelated to school lunches.

The meal reimbursement bill would cost the state just under $1 million per biennium. The school lunches bill would cost the state $6 million per biennium.