April 23, 2015

Charting a course for North Dakota

House minority leader shares thoughts on session

By STU MERRY

The 2015 North Dakota Legislative Session is in its final days. But with major budget issues yet to be decided, legislators have their work cut out for them. Add one more issue to be decided before time runs out.

The latest twist came this past Friday when the GOP majority introduced a bill to establish a flat oil tax bill. The proposal would lower the extraction tax rate. That proposal has met resistance from the Democratic minority, including Onstad.

The extraction tax reduction is a major tax cut and has lasting ramifications to the budget of North Dakota, he said Tuesday. "They introduce it on Friday and have hearings on Monday morning is not proper notice of such a major change. The public voted for this extraction tax in the early 80’s and they should have a say if it is going to be changed."

Onstad said the proposal is only a short-term fix but with a 30 percent permanent reduction.

HB 1476 was introduced last Friday by House Majority Leader Al Carlson. On Monday, it was heard by the House Finance and Tax Committee and was passed by the full House of Representatives that afternoon. The House did not take any testimony from the Tax Department or the Department of Natural Resources regarding the long-term cost of the 30 percent oil extraction tax cut.

Onstad shakes his head, putting it this way: "Imagine that if a corn grower has one bad year and wants it protected. And in return he agrees to a 30 percent reduction for the rest of his career."

 


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