UPDATE: Hoeven won't call special session
BISMARCK -- North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven will not call a special legislative session to address development in oil cities and counties. Hoeven spokesman Don Canton said the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties voted against...
BISMARCK -- North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven will not call a special legislative session to address development in oil cities and counties.
Hoeven spokesman Don Canton said the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties voted against the idea when it was brought to them last week.
"The fact is, they need more time to prepare for a session, and they acknowledge that," Canton said.
Jim Arthaud of Medora, a board member of the association, confirmed the group wants more time.
"We didn't think much good would come out of a special session before we have a needs assessment done," he said.
Earlier Tuesday, four western North Dakota lawmakers called on Hoeven to convene a special session.
The news release stating the "needs in the west are at an emergency level" came from
House Assistant Minority Leader Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall, Sen. John Warner, D-Ryder, Rep. Tom Conklin, D-Douglas, and Rep. Shirley Meyer, D-Dickinson.
Energy development is "dramatically impacting the condition of our roads and bridges," the legislators say in their letter to Hoeven. The west needs money now, not next year, they said.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck, said Tuesday that he does not favor a special session.
"You're never going to fund roads in any part of the state at the level those local jurisdictions want them funded," he said.
The Legislature dramatically increased funding to highways and roads, especially in the oil patch, during the last session, Stenehjem said.
He knows there is support for a four-lane highway on Highway 85. However, he said it's a federal highway and supporters should talk to the state's congressional delegation to "find out where money is to fund that highway."
Stenehjem said there are needs in western North Dakota, but called the request for a special session "a political move."
Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, also doesn't think there needs to be a special session, saying the construction season isn't going to change.
Legislators can do emergency bills at the beginning of the next session and get those through in time for the construction season next year, Kempenich said.
"I think it's jumping the gun as far as a special session goes," he said.
House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, said the topic will be one of the key issues legislators deal with next session.
"I think the special session is not necessary now for us to accomplish things we could accomplish six months from now. It's not that we don't understand the problem," he said. "It's just that it should be handled the next legislative session."
For more on this story, read Wednesday's Sun.