A legislative conference is considering a new proposal to restore some of the program funding to oil patch communities.
Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, introduced amendments to House Bill 1358 on Saturday.
Delzer’s proposal restores funding for critical access hospitals, EMS services, fire protection districts and sheriff’s departments.
It also restores some funding for the hub cities of Williston, Dickinson and Minot, but trims funding for oil community schools and townships.
All told, Delzer’s plan would appropriate $1.14 billion in oil and gas production taxes.
That’s a slight increase from the $1.075 billion approved by the Senate, which had trimmed back a $1.26 billion package approved by the House.
The conference committee was scheduled to meet again today so that Senate members could respond to the new plan.
The Senate had stripped funding for hospitals, EMS, fire protection and law enforcement.
Delzer’s plan puts some of that funding back, though at a lower level, by increasing the oil and gas impact fund allocation and designating portions of it for that purpose.
The House plan called for increasing the impact fund to $150 million. Senators agreed to raise it to $214 million, and Delzer’s plan raises it to $250 million.
Of that total, $7 million is earmarked for sheriff’s departments, $7 million for EMS services, and $3.5 million for fire protection districts.
The proposal restores a $10 million appropriation to help critical access hospitals that have been left in a lurch when transient workers have left unpaid bills for medical care.
The Senate had trimmed funding for oil patch counties and cities, and Delzer’s proposal restores about half of what had been cut.
It also restores most of the money deleted by the Senate for hub cities, although it uses a slightly different distribution method, giving Dickinson and Minot a little more and Williston a little less than the original House version.