BISMARCK — The North Dakota House of Representatives on Tuesday, Feb. 16, voted 69-24 to dump a bill that would have put money from the state's oil tax savings account toward property tax relief for homeowners.
Supporters of House Bill 1446, mostly ultra-conservative Republicans, said it would cycle money back into the local economy and promote home ownership in the state. The legislation would have dedicated earnings from the voter-approved Legacy Fund for residential property tax credits and then reimburse counties for the lost income.
Hazelton Republican Rep. Jeff Magrum said he found property tax relief to be the most important issue to his constituents, and eliminating the financial burden would allow low-income residents to keep their homes.
However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle rejected the bill as an irresponsible use of the state's resources. Rolla Democratic Rep. Marvin Nelson said the proposal "just isn't financially doable."
Montpelier Republican Rep. Craig Headland said the Legislature should look to provide tax relief to residents, but Magrum's broad and expensive proposal wasn't the best avenue. He noted that lawmakers could instead put Legacy Fund dollars toward reducing residents' income tax bills.
Republican Party leaders have proposed other uses for the money, including a massive bonding package that would pay for high-priority infrastructure projects across the state. Many lawmakers expect this legislative session to yield a more defined direction for the use of Legacy Fund earnings after several years of using money from the reserve mostly to balance the state budget.