After an interim study ordered in the last legislative session uncovered some questionable use of the state’s aircraft – most notably by North Dakota State University which, absurdly, owns an airplane funded by dollars from research grants – a bill was proposed in the current legislative session to manage the use of state aircraft through the Department of Transportation.
Which is a good idea. While there is a need for private airplanes in state government, it shouldn’t be used as a luxury taxi service by state employees.
In the House the bill was briefly amended to exempt the entirety of the North Dakota University System from this management, which is a bad idea given that NDSU is by far the worst abuser. But that exemption was changed to only the flight school at the University of North Dakota before it was passed in the House. Also added to the bill in the House was a requirement that NDSU sell their airplane, which an interim legislative committee essentially deemed an unnecessary extravagance.
But today the state Senate passed a version of this bill, HB1033, which removes the requirement that NDSU sell the airplane which, according to the legislature, is costing about 400 times more than just chartering flights would cost.
Here’s the video from the Senate, where higher ed double-dipper Senator Larry Robinson carried the bill:
One would hope that the House would fight to mandate that NDSU get rid of their wasteful airplane, but given the gulf that exists between the House and Senate on more high-profile issues like taxes I suspect that’s unlikely.