Reversal of Do Not Pass Recommendation
BISMARCK – The North Dakota State Senate voted Tuesday to allow scholarships based on the oil and gas industry.
Senate Bill 2197 allows the state board of higher education to award a scholarship of up to $16,000 to an individual who has worked in the oil and gas industry for at least six months, or is an immediate family member to someone who has. The total cost of the program would be $10,250,000.
The Senate Education committee gave the bill a five to one Do Not Pass recommendation, and the bill carrier, Sen. Michelle Axtman, R-Dis. 7, Bismarck, explained why.
“The committee acknowledged the possible positive impacts of the re-energized scholarship,” said Axtman. “However, at the same time, felt that the program was too broad, lacked guardrails as to who would qualify, did not require a match from industry, and did not require any commitment to live in the state of North Dakota.”
The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Karen Krebsbach, R-Dis. 40, Minot, explained why she believes the bill would do a lot of good for North Dakota in the long run.
“We have a serious workforce problem in the state, and this bill is a great answer to address many of those situations,” said Krebsach. “This bill opens up the opportunity for an industry in our state that is very much hampered by the lack of help, and the help is needed desperately in the oil energy area. We really need to do something.”
Krebsbach said the thought was to recruit those who are already interested in the oil and gas field.
“Give them the opportunity to go where their family has gone before to this area which is so productive in this state,” said Krebsbach. “We can look at the value that it has added to our economy.”
Several other senators spoke in support of the bill, and the bill passed by a vote of 33 to 14. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.