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By Caroline Downs
As legislators come up against the calendar in Bismarck, work on bills supported by the Northwest Landowners Association moves forward.
“Everything has sounded fairly good on the Senate side, so far,” said Troy Coons, who serves as vice-chairman for the NWLA.
As of April 1st, the North Dakota Senate passed an amended version of HB 1333, related to pipeline facilities and structures and reclamation, with a 47-0 vote. The amended bill was approved by a 91-0 vote in the House on Thursday, and both the Senate President and House Speaker have signed the legislation, which now awaits the Governor’s signature.
On Monday, the Senate approved an amended version of HB 1352, covering the mediation of mineral developer and surface owner disputes, on a 47-0 vote. That bill has been returned to the House for approval.
On Monday, the Senate also approved the much-discussed “setback” bill, HB 1348, but amended the bill dramatically to increase the setback distance for an oil or gas well drilling permit to 1,000 feet from an occupied building.
The House earlier approved the bill with a 500-foot setback distance.
The Senate passed the amended version on a 47-0 vote and returned the bill to the House for action. No vote had been scheduled on the bill, as of Monday.
HB 1355, relating to the definition of commencement of drilling operations, had a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on March 28th. That committee reported back Friday with a Do Not Pass recommendation for the bill, but the full Senate had not taken action on the bill as of Monday. HB 1355 passed the House on a 54-39 vote taken February 19th.
Coons said most of the testimony and discussion for the bills has ended now. “From here on, we don’t have input,” he said.
He was optimistic about the status of the remaining bills. “On the House side, we have really good support,” he said. “On the Senate side, we have allies. I’m hoping it goes well!”
Coons will continue speaking about the landowners’ bills during “The Legislature Today” radio broadcast, scheduled for tonight, April 10th, with Coons’ segment beginning at 7:30 pm. “We’ve had some really good shows, and our guests have been supportive in the discussions we’ve had,” he said.
The show can be heard live on KFYR 550 AM and KTGO 1090 AM.
Podcasts of the segment can be downloaded following the “Legislature Today” show from the website at podcast.flagfamily.com.
Coons encouraged landowners with further questions to contact him at 701-482-7865 or Hanson at 701-243-6386.