Opinion

Opinion: Lawmakers intrude into business of sovereign nation





Musings on a new oil tax agreement for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota:
Another example of that surfaced in a Senate Appropriations committee hearing last week on HB 1234, a long bill at 20 pages, related to income tax withholding for oil and gas royalties, to oil extraction tax definitions and exemptions and the state-tribal oil tax agreement.

It earlier passed the House on Feb. 25 by a 72-21 margin and has been in the Senate ever since. The House vote showed partisanship and, in turn, GOP support of the oil industry, as only four Republicans voted against the bill.

The strong oil lobby stepped up once again last week in Appropriations Committee testimony in support of tribal tax provisions of the bill.

HB1234 is a good vehicle to create oil industry revenue “equality” for all of North Dakota’s men, women and children. The committee agreed with a “do pass” recommendation – but only after an amendment that clouds trust and implies greater legislative equity.

If the bill passes, the tribe will now be required to report annually to legislative management the financial investments in “essential infrastructure and fees and expenses.” That begs a question of just how much the legislature is staying out of the business of a sovereign nation.

Get the Story:
John Irby: Legislature gives some, takes some when handling oil, Indians (The Williston Herald 4/17)

Related Stories:
Energy industry supports new tax deal for North Dakota tribe (4/11)
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation wants new deal for oil tax (4/5)