Mandan lawmakers say they're proud of their accomplishments in the 2019 legislative session.
Lawmakers concluded the session April 26, approving a record $14.7 billion overall budget, including federal funds, with more than $4.8 billion in state general fund spending.
More than 900 bills and resolutions were introduced in the session, with slightly over half the bills passing.
Among priorities for Mandan legislators was passing the infrastructure bill dubbed "Operation Prairie Dog." Sen. Dwight Cook, a Republican, regarded this bill as one of the Legislature's greatest achievements this session.
"(The bill) can replace a lot of special assessments," Cook said, adding that the bill will be helpful to the city of Mandan in its Southside Street Improvement Project.
The estimated $7 million street improvement project in south Mandan includes reconstruction of roadways, repaving of alleys and curb and gutter repairs.
In December, the city commission agreed to designate $1.5 million in sales tax revenue for the project, but commissioners said, if "Operation Prairie Dog" passed, they would use that as a funding mechanism instead of the sales tax.
The bill adds new "buckets" to the state funds filled from oil tax revenue to be distributed throughout North Dakota for city, county, township and airport infrastructure projects. Money would first be available for projects in the summer of 2021.
Rep. Todd Porter, also a Republican, said "Operation Prairie Dog" was a major accomplishment, as well as oil tax distribution and a bill to reorganize the state's county social services into multi-county "human service zones."
"I think (the smooth session) was testimony of the hard work the interim committees had done on a lot of those big issues," Porter said.
Porter said another achievement he was involved in was a bill that provides a tax incentive to use carbon dioxide captured from North Dakota's coal-fired power plants for enhanced oil recovery.
The legislation will support efforts such as Project Tundra, which proposes to capture up to 95% of the carbon dioxide from MinnKota Power's Milton R. Young Station near Center. The captured gas would be used to revitalize legacy oil wells.
The Legislature also increased general fund spending for K-12 education by nearly 20% to $1.7 billion for the 2019-21 budget cycle, while funding for higher education jumped about 8% to $660.5 million for the same period, according to state budget data.
Porter also praised the increases in K-12 funding, as well as state employee pay raises — 2% and 2.5% raises in each year of the 2019-21 biennium.
One issue Cook said he wished the Legislature has addressed this session was the potential uses of the Legacy Fund, a $5.4 billion fund voters approved in 2010.
"I wished we would have given more direction to what we were going to do with Legacy Fund earnings, so that there's more certainty amongst the citizens," said Cook, who is on a special committee that will study the fund over the interim.
Another issue Cook said he would like to address over the interim is taxing charitable gaming in the state.
Porter said he will "key in on energy issues" over the interim, as well as other options after the failed "trespass bill."
"I think, at a minimum, work toward electronic posting of land to make it easier for landowners to post their land," Porter said.