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ND Senate approves oil tax restructuring bill

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- North Dakota's Senate approved a measure Monday that closes loopholes used by oil companies in exchange for lower taxes.

The Republican-led body passed the bill 34-13. Democrats say the measure could cost the state billions of dollars in lost revenue in time.

Mandan Sen. Dwight Cook says the measure attempts to bring certainty to the tax code to keep companies drilling. The measure would cut the exemption for so-called stripper wells that is costing North Dakota about $50 million annually.

In exchange, the measure would charge oil companies an effective tax rate of 9.5 percent beginning in 2017 instead of the 11.5 percent tax rate they're charged now.

Democratic Sen. Connie Triplett of Grand Forks was the bill's biggest critic. She told fellow lawmakers, "We are giving away the farm."