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Anti-tobacco funding restored

BISMARCK -- After two failed attempts, House lawmakers passed a bill to fund the Tobacco Prevention and Control Advisory Committee.

Senate Bill 2024 was defeated by one vote Thursday, and an attempt to reconsider it later did not garner enough support.

The bill was considered again Friday, and it passed 68-23.

Lawmakers said they voted against the bill originally to help send a message to the committee that some don't agree with how the committee is spending its money and handling its prevention efforts.

The committee was created with the passage of Measure 5 in 2008 to develop policies and programs to reduce tobacco use and keep kids from starting to use tobacco.

The committee was appropriated $15.8 million, which comes through the Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund. The fund gets a portion of the money North Dakota receives from the Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies.

Water policies

Lawmakers hope to establish and implement a set of water management goals to "protect the long-term interests, economic vitality, and future benefits of the state and its citizens."

They hope to do so with Senate Bill 2233, which has now cleared both chambers and will be before Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature.

The bill creates policies for various projects such as the Souris River enhanced flood control project, Lower Heart River flood project in Morton County, Southwest pipeline project, Garrison diversion, Fargo-Moorhead flood project and the Western Area Water Supply.

Also under the bill, a revolving loan fund will be created Jan. 1, 2015, using 10 percent of oil extraction taxes in the Resource Trust Fund.

The Industrial Commission will provide loans based on certain criteria for water supply, flood protection, or other water development and water management projects.

Outdoor Heritage Fund

The board created to advise the newly minted Outdoor Heritage Fund for conservation efforts may lose only one of its original board members.

After three attempts to remove the three conservation organizations that are specifically listed to be represented on the board -- Ducks Unlimited of North Dakota, the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust and the North Dakota chapter of Pheasants Forever -- the Natural Resources Trust may be out after asking to be removed, according to Rep. Mike Brandenburg, R-Edgeley.

The board would consist of the two specific organizations and two conservation groups chosen from a list by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

The amendment to remove the Natural Resources Trust is now in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department budget, House Bill 1017, which passed 84-6 Friday in the House. It will now be sent to the Senate for its consideration.

Keith Trego, director of the Natural Resources Trust, was unavailable for comment Friday.

The sponsor of the bill that created the $30 million Outdoor Heritage Fund, Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, sought to remove all three groups after hearing they might be attempting to create a much larger fund through a statewide vote and trying to sabotage his proposal.

Trego and Ducks Unlimited denied the allegations, arguing they just wanted to see more money in the fund.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.