House votes to remove UND medical school property tax levy
The amended version of the resolution heads back to North Dakota Senate. The resolution would need voter approval
BISMARCK — A resolution that would amend the state Constitution and remove a statewide, one-mill property tax for the UND medical school passed the North Dakota House 53-34 on Thursday, March 23.
The one-mill levy generates around $11 million each biennium for the medical school, which is based in Grand Forks. The school’s budget is around $246 million.
Because the resolution would change the North Dakota Constitution, it would require voter approval before going into effect. The resolution was amended to go into effect after Dec. 31, 2026, if approved by voters.
Supporters say the resolution is a matter of tax policy and there is no intention to defund the medical school, but rather to shift the source of funding from property taxes to the general fund.
“It has nothing to do with any negative feelings toward the medical school at all, and the intent of all the sponsors of the resolution is that funding remains whole,” Sen. Jordan Kannianen, R-Stanley, said earlier this month.
Rep. Jared Hagert, R-Emerado, said the resolution gives the next legislative assembly enough time to figure out the correct funding source moving forward.
On Friday, the resolution reconsidered. During the debate, Hagert said he was wrong to indicate that the medical school was supportive of the resolution. Friday, he said the school was against the measure.
Those opposed to the resolution believe the tax levy, the only statewide property tax, helps fund training for North Dakota’s health care industry.
Rep. Jon Nelson, R-Rugby, said the mill levy has been “very successful” over the past two decades in producing high quality specialists for the state’s health care industry.
“It's going to be easy to say 'let’s control our property tax and this one mill,' ” he said. “... It’s a lottery ticket that we give to the medical school, every citizen in North Dakota, for quality health care. I don't believe that is asking too much.”
There were seven members who did not vote. Because of the amendment, the resolution will head back to the Senate.
Editor's note: This story was updated on Friday afternoon, March 24, to update information about the medical school's position of the measure. The measure was reconsidered on March 24 and failed to pass.