BISMARCK — University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy says he is “excited” about a bill backed by legislative leaders that could bolster research and economic development in North Dakota for years to come.

Senate Bill 2282 would transfer 15 percent of Legacy Fund earnings to an economic diversification research fund that would support work by UND and North Dakota State University.

The bill also includes the creation of an advisory committee for the fund, which would include the president of the Bank of North Dakota, the commerce commissioner, the chair of the State Board of Higher Education and the two university presidents, as well as four others.

Legacy Fund earnings are not available until after the biennium ends, however, a $45 million loan structure through the Bank of North Dakota is also built into the bill. The Legacy Fund was approved by voters in 2010 and uses a portion of oil and gas-related taxes to create a “rainy day” fund for the state.

This fall, Kennedy and NDSU President Dean Bresciani traveled the state speaking about the importance of research for economic diversification in North Dakota. They originally proposed the state invest $100 million in research at the two campuses, with each school getting $25 million a year.