BISMARCK, N.D. - A bill authorizing the construction of a new governor’s residence would be a first-class upgrade to the Capitol grounds, a Fargo lawmaker said Wednesday, even as the governor called it unnecessary.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple expressed no enthusiasm for House Bill 1379 on Wednesday morning following an appearance at a North Dakota Bankers Association gathering at the state Capitol.
“I’d have to say I really don’t really see the need for it,” Dalrymple said.
HB1379 would authorize up to $3 million from the Capitol Building Fund for construction of a new governor’s residence and an executive conference center on the state Capitol grounds. Up to $3 million also would be authorized in private donations and other funding sources to assist in construction.
Dalrymple said he hadn’t been aware of the conference center being proposed. He said he and first lady Betsy Dalrymple find the governor’s residence and its public meeting spaces to be adequate.
Dalrymple said there also is adequate meeting space throughout the Capitol.
“Personally, I (just) don’t see any need for that whatsoever,” Dalrymple said of the proposed new residence.
Rep. Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo, is a sponsor of HB1379. Thoreson also sponsored a bill in a past session to build a new governor’s residence, with the project paid for with general fund dollars. With the state’s strong fiscal shape and changes to the funding source, Thoreson said, he expects there may be more support for the bill this year.
“I know the previous governor, Gov. (John) Hoeven, said the same thing,” Thoreson said of Dalrymple’s statement. “As a governor, you don’t want to be seen as saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to build myself a big new residence.’”
Thoreson said the Capitol building is more than 80 years old and the governor’s residence is several decades old.
The consensus among constituents he’s spoken to who favor the bill is that the current governor’s residence “was probably really nice in the 1950s” but an upgrade would be acceptable.
The residence was completed in March 1960.
Sponsoring HB1379 along with Thoreson are Reps. Matthew Klein, R-Minot, Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, Curtiss Kreun, R-Grand Forks, Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, and Eliot Glassheim, D-Grand Forks, and Sens. Randy Burckhard, R-Minot, Stan Lyson, R-Williston, Dave Oehlke, R-Devils Lake, and Richard Marcellais, D-Belcourt.