We are moving right along and pushing forward. On Monday the 8th, the first bill of the 67th Legislative session was signed into law by Governor Burgum. It is very pleasing to see oil prices continuing to rise. This means more of the Prairie Dog Buckets continue to fill. Hopefully, the price of oil maintains for the rest of the biennium. However, Director Lynn Helms of the Department of Mineral Resources said the prices are probably nearing their peak. He alluded to the fact that OPEC will lift some of its production caps to stifle North American drilling and exploration. That, along with an unknown outcome of the DAPL impact statement due in the coming weeks, means there is some uncertainty in the market right now, especially in North Dakota. The Legislature has realized this uncertainty and is working on different ways to assist the industry. The Legislature knows how vital a healthy oil industry is to the western part of the state and all of North Dakota.
As of this writing, the Senate has to act on 255 more House bills before the end of session, and the House has to act on 226. On Tuesday the 16th, the House and Senate Appropriation committees will receive the final budget revenue forecast. After the presentations, leadership and committee members will decide on a final revenue forecast for the upcoming biennium. One of the essential pieces of information presented is the forecast for oil price and production numbers for the upcoming biennium. If you are interested in watching it, you can watch it on the ND Legislative website at 9 am and 2:30 pm. The current discussion is the new forecast numbers will be higher and have a better outlook than the January numbers. We are hopeful with higher oil prices, drilling and exploration will continue to expand and grow. Stay tuned for an update when we receive those numbers.
One of the other major discussion topics circulating the Capitol is the large amount of money North Dakota will receive from the Federal Government. It looks like there will be over $1 billion heading our way. Some of it will go directly to political subdivisions, and some will go to the state. There is a significant amount of money that is heading to primary and secondary education. We are still discussing what the state will do with the $500 million-plus the state will receive. Many of the Legacy Fund bills, which are now in the Senate, will be held until the end of session because once a decision has been made regarding the federal money, the rest of those large bills can be hammered out.