Grand Forks city officials said Friday they were looking forward to seeing how "Operation Prairie Dog" in the state Legislature will advance after the proposed legislation had its first hearing in the House Finance and Taxation Committee last week.

City Administrator Todd Feland and Finance Director Maureen Storstad joined representatives from several other cities to testify Tuesday on behalf of House Bill 1066, which would provide oil and tax revenue to non-oil producing communities in east North Dakota for infrastructure projects.

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"It was a very impressive group and very much noticed by myself and the legislators in attendance," League of North Dakota Cities Director Blake Crosby said.

House committee members have yet to vote and make a recommendation on the bill. Crosby said some legislators still have concerns with a provision in the bill entailing "permanency."

Crosby said that doesn't intimidate him since there's "no such thing as permanency" in the legislative process.

"There also are some legislators out there saying we can't afford this. That is simply not true," Crosby said, citing projections of rosy oil and gas collections.

Grand Forks city staff will consider sending someone to a Tuesday hearing this week for complementary legislation found in Senate Bill 2275. That bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee.

Other bills

House Bill 1239 from Rep. Mark Owens, R-Grand Forks would increase fees for noncriminal traffic offenses. That bill had its first hearing Friday in the House Transportation Committee.

"There seems to be quite a hesitancy from the committee to increase fees on anything," Crosby said.

There were several law enforcement officials present to testify in favor of the bill, he said.

A Senate bill to increase liability limits for political subdivisions and the state had its first hearing Thursday in the Senate Political Subdivisions Committee.

"I think that hearing went well," Crosby said. "There's always a great deal of misunderstanding about insurance in general."

If the bill passes without any amendments, it could mean premiums will increase for some cities by about 50 percent, he said.

Most likely, Crosby said, the bill won't succeed as proposed, and the state will research an appropriate increase on liability limits.