By JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press

BISMARCK, ND (AP) – A longtime lawmaker and retired grocer was chosen on Wednesday to lead an advisory board developing guidelines for investments in the state from the approved oil tax savings account by voters in North Dakota.

Republican Senator from Fessenden, Jerry Klein, was elected chairman of the new Wealth and Budget Stabilization Fund advisory board, which GOP representative Keith Kempenich led for nearly a decade.

Some lawmakers have criticized Kempenich, a Bowman breeder, for allegedly delaying the implementation of bipartisan legislation approved in March aimed at creating a broader investment policy for the state’s Legacy Fund.

Kempenich and Klein told reporters that implementing the legislation is time consuming and complex.

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“Everything is being done to move this legislation forward,” said Klein, who has served in the Senate since 1997. “No one is dragging their feet. “

The State Investment Board, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford, invests Legacy Fund money in a wide variety of assets, including stocks, bonds and real estate. The legislation, sponsored by Bismarck Representative Mike Nathe, required the board of directors – with advice from the advisory committee – to give preference to North Dakota companies and financial institutions to administer investments in the state.

Frustrated that the advisory board did not come up with a clear policy for investing in the state, Nathe managed to push through legislation in a special session this fall to change the makeup of the board and limit the president’s tenure. at one year.

“It was time for a new voice for the presidency, and (Klein) will keep these guys moving forward,” Nathe said Wednesday. “My problem is the timing. We should have started six months ago and not in December.

The advisory committee previously had seven members, including four legislators. It now has 10 members, including six lawmakers, and the chairman of the North Dakota State Bank, insurance commissioner, state treasurer and tax commissioner.

A motion to retain Kempenich as panel chairman failed. Kempenich voted for himself. Nine panel members, including Kempenich, then endorsed Klein as the new chairman. Klein voted against himself as chairman, having voted for Kempenich, who was named vice chairman.

Both will serve until June. After that, the president and vice-president will sit for a full year.

Democratic Senator Kathy Hogan of Fargo has nominated Klein. She praised Kempenich for the work he had done, but said Klein’s choice shows a “good faith effort to recognize a new stage in this committee.”

Voters in 2010 approved a constitutional amendment that requires the setting aside of 30% of state tax revenues from oil and natural gas production in the Legacy Fund, which is valued at approximately $ 8.5 billion. . He is expected to earn around $ 500 million over the next two-year budget cycle.

Supporters of the legislation to provide more investment in the state of the Legacy Fund said only about 1% of the fund’s capital had been invested in North Dakota in the past.

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