Did You Know ND Legislature is Using COVID Relief for Tourism?

Rep. Mike Nathe (District 30)

One of the more high profiles issues of North Dakota’s recent legislative session had to do with funding for an amusement park in Jamestown. Ultimately, pushback from the public was enough to convince the Senate to nix that effort. But did you know that in turn an amendment was added to the bill to fund tourism with COVID relief dollars from the federal government?

It’s true.

All of this was done in Senate Bill 2018— which also happens to be the Commerce budget. As you can see in Section 8, the legislature appropriated $12 million of COVID relief funds to be split up as follows:

  • $7 Million “for tourism marketing and branding initiatives”
  • $1 Million “for technical skills training grants”
  • $2 Million “for travel agent and tour operator emergency resiliency grants”
  • $2 Million “for event center emergency resiliency grants”

I’m not making this stuff up. The justification for it? Well, speaking to the travel agent portion of the bill, Rep. Mike Nathe (R – District 30) explained that they’ve “been severely impacted by COVID”.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of bailouts in general. But tourism and travel agents? Seriously. And yet, some lawmakers wonder why their constituents are upset. It seems too many in the State Capitol are enamored by the fuzzy feelings they get when they spend spend spend. But hey, we just need to call them “investments” and that makes it okay, I guess.

This wasn’t the only example of crazy in SB 2018. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me. Better yet, watch the video of debate in both the House and Senate. Just to warn you though— If you’re a fiscal conservative, who despises cronyism, it may actually nauseate you. It’s bad. Heck, lawmakers even used tax dollars to help fund a motion picture (see Section 21).

One of the more excellent points, made on the House floor, came from Rep. Jim Kasper (R – District 46). He pointed out that the legislature can’t seem to find dollars in the budget to provide meaningful tax relief, while simultaneously having no difficulty finding money to give away. Interesting how that works.

As a side note, final passage on the bill was 35-12 in the Senate and 61-25 in the House.

We desperately need change in Bismarck.



  1. House Passes Commerce Department Budget, Buffalo Park Grant Included | News Dakota
  2. North Dakota lawmakers nix funding for Jamestown amusement park, but backers still confident in project | The Dickinson Press
  3. North Dakota Bill Versions: SB 2018 (nd.gov)
  4. North Dakota Legislative Branch Video (nd.gov)
  5. ENGROSSED Senate Bill No. 2018 FIRST ENGROSSMENT with Conference Committee Amendments – Sixty-seventh Legislative Assembly of North Dakota – LC Number 21.0300.06000
  6. North Dakota Bill Video: SB 2018 (nd.gov)
  7. North Dakota Legislative Branch Video (nd.gov)
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About T. Arthur Mason 883 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.