- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Budgets, guns and casinos. The North Dakota Legislature is expected to consider those and other measures as the session marches through the second full week after lawmakers’ midsession break.

Monday is Day 45, which means North Dakota’s Senate and House have 25 days to clear bills in their respective calendars to meet a self-imposed deadline of 70 days, 10 short of the constitutional 80-day limit.

REVENUE FORECAST

Bleaker-than-expected tax collections have been recurring in North Dakota for more than two years. And Legislators who already are dealing with shrinking budgets learned last week that they again have even less money to spend due to a prolonged slump in oil and agriculture prices.

Newly updated forecasts of the state’s tax collections show North Dakota’s treasury expects to collect $46.3 million less than previously expected before its current two-year budget period ends on June 30. The state treasury also is expected to collect $103.2 million less than previously expected for the next two-year budget, from this July through June 2019.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said Republican-led appropriations committees will adopt the forecast early this week, but are expected to lower the assumed revenue projections even lower for the current two-year budget cycle.

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CASINO

A proposal by the state’s top House Republican to allow state-owned casinos is getting its first hearing Monday.

Rep. Al Carlson of Fargo says his proposal would establish casinos as “destination-oriented attractions” and use profits from them to offset state taxes.

Some North Dakota lawmakers say the plan risks angering American Indian tribes even more when relations have already been rubbed raw by the Dakota Access pipeline dispute.

Carlson’s resolution is a proposed constitutional amendment that would go to voters if lawmakers give the OK. It does not need the governor’s approval, but GOP Gov. Doug Burgum says he opposes the idea.

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GUN DAY

Tuesday is being termed gun day at the North Dakota Capitol. The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering House-sponsored proposals that would allow people with concealed carry permits to have guns in churches, schools and other public places. Along with the package of guns-rights measures is the most pro-gun bill of all, the “constitutional carry” that would allow people over the age of 21 to carry concealed firearms without a permit.

The House already has endorsed the measures. Senators have shot down similar House-sponsored gun legislation in past sessions.

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