Associated Press, Published December 17 2012
ND legislators could find lodging hard to findBISMARCK — Many North Dakota legislators could find it difficult to find lodging for the 2013 Legislature.
The booming western oil patch has made housing in the region scarce, and the rental vacancy rate in Bismarck-Mandan is about 1 percent, The Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/TqNOo1 ).
"It's getting harder and harder" for out-of-town lawmakers to find lodging, said Rep. Mark Dosch, R-Bismarck, who owns a local hotel. "This year is probably going to be the worst because of what's going on with the occupancy rates."
Another problem is that lawmakers get about $45 per day for lodging, and the average nightly rate for a Bismarck hotel room is $78, Dosch said. Some hotels do offer lower rates to legislators.
"It's just another one of those challenging things every two years," said Rep. Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo. "Obviously, I would prefer to not have to pay out-of-pocket to serve, but I will if I have to.
"I know there is pressure in Bismarck," Thoreson said of lodging rates. "I'd like to see that (reimbursement) taken care of sometime soon."
About 80 percent of out-of-town legislators book hotel rooms during the sessions every two years, according to Dosch. Others rent apartments or make arrangements with friends, family members or local homeowners who are away for the winter, he said.
Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, said he arranged to rent the home of a Bismarck couple living in Arizona for the winter.
"I pretty much lucked out, talking to a friend of a friend," he said.
The 2013 session starts in January and will run until late April.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.