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ND Legislature: Lawmakers to address big issues

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 10, 2013 at 9:31 am •  Published: March 10, 2013
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Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, says his bill is "a win for the state of North Dakota and a win for the oil industry."

Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, has called the measure "the biggest giveaway in the state's history."

Cook's proposal would cut the exemption for so-called stripper wells that the state Tax Department says is costing North Dakota about $50 million in revenue each year.

Stripper wells are exempt from the state's 6.5 percent extraction tax, but not a 5 percent production tax. Attempts to close the loophole have failed in the past three legislative sessions.

The measure would charge oil companies an effective tax rate of 9.5 percent on wells drilled after 2017 instead of the 11.5 percent tax rate they're charged now.

Democrats have called the measure radical and reckless, saying it would cost the state more than $595 million in lost revenue in the first five years. Republicans say the tax cut will ensure that companies remaining drilling in North Dakota.

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BOTTLE ROCKET BAN

The North Dakota Senate could endorse a House measure to lift a four-year-old ban on selling bottle rockets in the state.

The issue of bottle rockets has turned into a biennial debate by the state Legislature.

The House voted to lift the ban earlier this session. The Senate is mulling the measure this week.

Eye doctors helped the Legislature see the need to ban bottle rocket sales in 2009, saying the fireworks cause eye injuries. An effort to overturn the ban failed in 2011.

The current law still allows people to possess and shoot off bottle rockets, but businesses in North Dakota can't sell them.

Statehouse watchers say that constitutional issues likely will be raised during the debate over the skyrockets this session — or at the very least, a copy of the Constitution will be pulled from a jacket pocket as the measure is mulled.

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BAREFOOT REPORTERS IN TUBE TOPS?

In the Capitol pressroom, reporters have been informed for the second time this session that tank tops and tube tops will not be tolerated "without additional covering."

The rules issued by the North Dakota Legislature's Republican majority leaders and sergeants-at-arms also forbids reporters from going barefoot or intentionally displaying undergarments or bare midriffs.

Granted, most reporters aren't fashion plates but even the longest-tenured, grizzled journalists covering the Capitol can't recall such violations.

"Policies Governing Media In The Chamber" is posted prominently in the Capitol media room.

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Follow James MacPherson on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/macphersonja