Bill Would Create State-Run Retirement Program For North Dakotans


Rep. George Keiser, a Republican from Bismarck, wants the State of North Dakota to run a retirement plan for its citizens.

It would be called the Save for Retirement Today Plan, if HB1200 passes. Here are the particulars:

  • The program would be run through the State Treasurer’s office, with the Treasurer given the authority to administer it
  • Only non-government employers with payrolls less than 100 people would be eligible to participate.
  • If a given employer participates, they are not required to contribute to the plan but can choose to do so.
  • An employee of a non-participating employer can choose to join the program. The employer must only deduct the employee’s chose contribution from his/her earnings and remit it to the program.
  • Participating employers cannot have an existing retirement plan, and cannot terminate any existing plan in order to participate
  • Contributions to the program would be exempt from income taxes
  • $100,000 is appropriated to develop the program

To be sure, this is an aggressive proposal (the meager appropriation to create it notwithstanding).

It seems that saving is very much on the minds of lawmakers this session. Keiser’s proposal comes alongside Senator Oley Larsen’s (R-Minot) idea to tuck away $5,000 for every North Dakota child, to be managed by the Bank of North Dakota, until they’re 20 years old or go to college.

The difference between the two proposals being that Larsen would be giving away money to every child born in the state, whereby Keiser would be creating a mechanism through which employees (with the voluntary assistance of their employers) can save their own money.

Still, I wonder why this is necessary? It seems to me that there are plenty of savings and investment services available to small businesses and individuals who wish to avail themselves of them. Do we really need a state-run solution?

Granted, this is the state with a state-owned bank and a state-owned grain mill, but do we need a state-run retirement service too?