A bill to increase speed limits on North Dakota multilane highways failed Wednesday in the state House.
Representatives voted 46-46 to shoot down the proposal from Rep. Jake Blum, a Republican from Grand Forks.
Under the state constitution, passage of a bill requires a majority of the members elected to the house, meaning the proposal was just two votes short of passing.
The constitution would also allow an absent legislator to request the House to reconsider the bill.
Blum’s bill would have raised speed limits on multilane highways from 70 mph to 75 mph and on interstates from 75 mph to 80 mph.
The bill is similar to two the Legislature considered in 2017 from Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, and former Sen. Lonnie Laffen, R-Grand Forks. Both called for increased speed limits.
Koppelman was a co-sponsor on Blum’s bill. He testified against a fiscal note from the state Department of Transportation, which estimated North Dakota will have to spend $287,000 in the next biennium for new signs and $4.56 million to re-engineer roads for higher speeds.
Before the House vote Wednesday, February 13, several of the legislators who provided last-minute testimony in favor of Blum’s proposal also criticized the the Department of Transportation’s estimates.
“These fiscal notes are causing some consternation around the legislators,” said Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, who later called the Department of Transportation’s note a form of lobbying.
The House Transportation Committee that heard Koppelman’s testimony voted Jan. 25 to give the bill a “do pass recommendation.” The House Appropriations Committee voted on Thursday to give the bill a “do not pass recommendation.”
Koppelman has previously told the Herald it was a 2017 fiscal note from the Department of Transportation, which forecast a $155,000 cost to replace signs and $3.27 million cost for reconstruction, that killed his bill that year.
Koppelman’s speed limit bill was defeated in 2017 with only six people voting to pass it. Laffen’s bill in the the Senate had been defeated 18 to 28.