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Dalrymple won't call special session for Oil Patch spending

BISMARCK - Gov. Jack Dalrymple will not call state lawmakers to Bismarck for a special session to address needs in booming western North Dakota, his office announced Monday.

Top legislative Democrats called for a special session in late February for infrastructure and other improvements, saying that many feared the communities and counties in North Dakota's Oil Patch were "reaching the breaking point."

Dalrymple said in a press release he is "confident that the state can provide the assistance needed to help the oil and gas region address the impacts of rapid growth" and hold off on extra legislative measures until the Legislature convenes in 2015.

The 2013 Legislature appropriated about $2.5 billion to address needs associated with rapid growth in the west, including $590 million in oil and gas production tax allocations, more than $1.5 billion for highway improvement projects and $240 million from the state's oil and gas impact grant fund.

Still, Democratic lawmakers have contended that current state funding is failing to keep up with the pace of development and demand for services in the western part of the state. Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, and House Minority Leader Kenton Onstad of Parshall requested a special session in a Feb. 24 letter to Dalrymple.

Since statehood, the Legislature has been called into special session 14 times, most recently in November 2011 when it approved millions in spending for flood relief and oil-impacted counties during a five-day session with limited staff that cost $228,000, according to Legislative Council.

North Dakota's Legislature meets once every two years. The 2015 Legislature is scheduled to begin Jan. 6.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502

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