Committee trims appropriation for Minot’s base retention
Conferees cut original bill in half
BISMARCK – A legislative conference committee is recommending lawmakers approve $500,000 for Minot’s base retention efforts and preparation for the Air Force’s Sentinel missile upgrade.
The amount is less than the $900,000 originally sought for Minot in Senate Bill 2240, which the Senate approved 47-0 in January.
Sen. Randy Burckhard, R-Minot, the bill’s sponsor and chairman of the conference committee, called the compromise amount inappropriate for Minot.
He noted military bases have a $2.4 billion annual economic impact in North Dakota, adding that the Sentinel missile upgrades will have an additional $3.2 billion impact. The construction project is expected to bring 2,500 to 3,000 workers when it comes to the Minot region.
The Air Force plans to replace the aging LGM-30G Minuteman III with the LGM-35 Sentinel. The existing 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles have been in service for more than 50 years in missile fields in Wyoming, Montana and near Minot Air Force Base. Missiles in North Dakota are scheduled to be the last replaced, and Minot Area Chamber EDC has been looking to follow the project’s progress to prepare for the day it comes to the area.
“The military community has an enormous positive impact on North Dakota,” said Brekka Kramer, president/CEO of the Minot Area Chamber EDC, which has supported SB 2240. “Minot Air Force Base alone contributes more than half a billion dollars to our local economy, and the men and women of Team Minot add to the magic of our region. The Minot Area Chamber EDC is grateful that the North Dakota Legislature recognizes the importance of the advocacy and awareness our organization provides to ensure the missions of Minot Air Force Base continue into the future.”
The original SB 2240 also included $500,000 for each Grand Forks, home of Grand Forks Air Force Base, and Fargo, which has National Guard personnel. The conference committee is recommending $250,000 for each Grand Forks and Fargo. The House had approved $400,000 for Minot and $200,000 for the other communities.
The conference committee vote was 4-2, with Burckhard and Rep. Jon Nelson, R-Rugby, voting against due to the amount of the reduction for Minot. Nelson had pushed for up to $200,000 each for all three cities, with an additional $400,000 for Minot to prepare for the Sentinel project and a requirement that each community come up with a $100,000 match to get their full amounts.
The last time the state funded base retention was in 2017, when the three communities each received $200,000.