Several interesting bills came out of North Dakota’s special session in November. One of particular note is Senate Bill 2371, which includes funding for several programs that are critical to flood disaster recovery and energy-impacted western North Dakota. Here are some of the highlights of SB 2371.
The Land Department has been appropriated $30 million from the general fund to provide infrastructure development grants to flood-impacted areas through June 30, 2013. Counties, as well as cities, school districts, and others are eligible if they received an individual assistance designation by FEMA relating to a 2011 flood. The affected counties include: Barnes, Benson, Burleigh, McHenry, Morton, Ramsey, Renville, Richland, Spirit Lake Reservation, and Ward.
Grants of up to 50 percent of the costs not otherwise reimbursed through federal or other state funds may be used for:
- Developing new community infrastructure (waterlines, sewer, curb, and gutter) directly related to displacement of residents due to flooding.
- Evaluating the extent of damage to community-owned infrastructure.
- Restoring or repairing flood damaged community-owned infrastructure.
- Expanding landfill capacity or reimbursing flood-related waste disposal costs.
- Raising roads or developing flood control structures.
- Acquiring property needed for floodway development or levy construction.
- Acquiring homes damaged by levy construction.
- Providing reimbursement for other flood-related expense
Special funds derived from $235 million of federal money will go to the Department of Commerce to provide loans or grants to flood-impacted individuals or for property acquisitions, and infrastructure development grants to flood-impacted communities.
A cash infusion of $50 million has been appropriated to the State Water Commission’s Resources Trust Fund. It’s important to note, these types of expenditures require Budget Section Approval, according to the 2011 Session Laws.
An additional $30 million is appropriated from the general fund for the Oil and Gas Impact Grant Fund. However, the Tax Commissioner must certify that total oil and gas tax revenue collections for the period July 1, 2011, through February 29, 2012, exceed projections for that period by at least $48 million based on legislative estimates made at the end of the 2011 regular session. Priority will be given to licensed emergency medical services operations, fire departments, sheriff offices, and police departments. Any unspent funds will be available for continuing the grant program in the next biennium.
Finally, a $5 million appropriation will go towards New Oil and Gas Development Activities. The fund will support counties experiencing new oil and gas development activities. A county is eligible if fewer than 100,000 barrels of oil were produced in November 2011, and after November 2011 the number of active oil rigs operating in the county in any one month exceeds four rigs. The Land Department shall provide $1.25 million to the county for defraying expenses associated with oil and gas development impacts.