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Burgum: GOP income tax bill isn’t ‘good policy’

February 7, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum said Thursday he dislikes a proposal by top GOP House members that would tap some earnings from the state’s voter-approved oil tax savings account for income tax relief.

“I don’t think it’s good policy,” Burgum told reporters.

Burgum said earnings from the Legacy Fund, which voters enacted in 2010, should be used for programs that he called “transformative,” including using $300 million for education loans and grants, and projects that include a $50 million Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in western North Dakota.

Rep. Craig Headland, who chairs the House Finance and Taxation Committee, said he disagrees with Burgum that his bill is bad policy, and that its primary intent is to allow residents to directly share in the Legacy Fund by lowering their tax burden. He said the measure also could help repel potential initiated measure attempts to drain the fund that currently holds more than $6 billion.

House Majority Leader Chet Pollert and GOP Rep. Jeff Delzer, who chairs the powerful House Appropriations committee, are among the measure’s co-sponsors.

Despite disagreement on that bill, the first-term governor told reporters that he believes his relationship with lawmakers has improved, after a clash last session over vetoes.

Burgum said he is routinely meeting with lawmakers this session “to create a dialogue.”

The governor said he had not reviewed bills approved in the House that would ban a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure and require abortion providers to inform women undergoing drug-induced abortions that if they changed their minds, they could still have a live birth — a claim critics argue isn’t supported by medical evidence.

Though he would not comment on those bills , Burgum reiterated Thursday that he would have signed several anti-abortion measures approved by lawmakers and former Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple in 2013 that made North Dakota’s abortion laws among the strictest in the nation, including one that would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, something that can happen before a woman knows she is pregnant. That law never went into effect after the state’s lone abortion clinic filed a successful lawsuit .  

North Dakota spent $326,000 to unsuccessfully defend the laws and paid the clinic $245,000 as part of a settlement.

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