It is day 67 here in Bismarck. We are in the final stretch of the session, and many of the bills are getting finalized in conference committee. There are about 85 bills between the House and Senate that need to be completed before the end of the session. The goal from leadership was to be finished by Friday the 23rd; however, there is much work to make that time frame. It would not be a surprise if we finished up Saturday the 24th or the beginning of the last week of April.
One of the most significant holdups that could extend the session is allocating the Federal money from the administration. There is over $1 billion on the way, which the Legislature has little idea how it can be spent. It will come in 2 tranches, half when the Governor signs the paperwork to accept the Federal dollars, and the rest within one year of the first payment. There is little chance the Legislature will know the parameters of the spending criteria until May or June. This is why it is critical the Legislature saves days to appropriate the federal dollars this fall or winter. There is a chance the interim committees will be working on legislation and crafting ideas on spending the money. Then, when we are back in session, the Legislature as a whole will appropriate those dollars, and there will be a chance to have public hearings.
The budget is looking reasonably well at this point in the session. There will be changes, but we are not far off from leaving here with a balanced budget. The state has set itself up well for the next biennium and into the future.
As always, please reach out with concerns you may have. We will always try and be as accessible as possible to our constituents. Keith Kempenich: firstname.lastname@example.org Denton Zubke: email@example.com Dale Patten: firstname.lastname@example.org