BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today thanked members of the interim Tribal Taxation Issues Committee and leaders of North Dakota’s American Indian tribes for their collaborative work as the committee held its final meeting and discussed draft legislation for the Legislature to consider in January.
Burgum thanked the Legislature for forming the committee, which was unique for an interim committee in that it included both legislative leadership and the governor as chair.
"The goal of this committee between the two legislative sessions was to try to advance the opportunity for collaborative tax policy with the tribal nations inside of our border. We’ve had a number of productive meetings and today will be one more where we continue to keep the dialogue going. I want to thank all the tribal leaders and their staff that have been to prior meetings, those that have hosted us when we’ve had meetings in tribal lands," Burgum said in his opening remarks. "We believe that if you’ve got a stable tax and regulatory environment, that attracts business and capital – and attracting business and capital is good for all the citizens of our state. And so we’re striving to move forward toward that goal.”
The committee discussed two draft bills that Sen. Dwight Cook of Mandan plans to introduce next session. One would give the governor authority to enter into separate agreements with individual tribes to administer sales and use taxes, while the other would provide the same authority to enter agreements with tribes for wholesale taxes on alcohol and tobacco.
Cook said the biggest obstacle to such agreements is that they need approval from the Legislature, which meets in regular session once every two years. The draft legislation would allow the governor and tribes to enter into agreements during the interim.
“In the Legislature, we do see and understand that only tribes can impose a tax on the tribal people,” Cook said, adding, “We’ve also got to recognize that another challenge we have is that the best way for a tribe to administer a tax that they decide to impose is by using the state tax system. … My goal is to simply remove any obstacles that may exist that hinder a tribe from imposing a tax that the tribe wants to impose.”
The committee’s voting members consist of House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo; Senator Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson; House Minority Leader Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks; Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford; Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier; and Cook. Additional members included Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, Indian Affairs Commission Executive Director Scott Davis and Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger.
Strengthening tribal partnerships is one of the governor’s five strategic initiatives, and Burgum expressed his gratitude for the participation of tribal leaders and their staff from the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, known as the Three Affiliated Tribes; the Spirit Lake Tribe; the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.