Despite a 5-to-1 Do Not Pass recommendation from the Senate Education Committee, the full Senate voted 33-14 this week to approve legislation that would offer scholarships to oilfield workers and members of their families.
The "Re-energize North Dakota Scholarship" in SB 2197 would provide $10 million to fund scholarships of up $16,000 to individuals employed in the oil and gas industry in an oil-producing county or an immediate family member of that employee.
The bill was characterized by the committee as "poorly written," and further complicated by multiple amendments that were offered. But the bill's sponsor, Minot Senator Karen Krebsbach, said despite the difficulty in crafting language in the bill, it was worthy of further consideration and wordsmithing by the House.
Click here to listen to Krebsbach's comments.
Watford City Senator Dale Patten said if an oil industry worker's family member is able to obtain training and secure employment, the family is more likely to remain in North Dakota in the event of an industry downturn. Patten said the scholarship opportunity would not only benefit the industry by helping it retain its current force, it would also serve as a workforce recruitment tool.
Click here to listen to Patten's comments.
Upon the bill's passage, rather than sending it on to the House, the legislation was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
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