North Dakota established its Legacy Fund because officials recognized the state's oil industry was poised for another boom.
Kempenich said the state government did not respond to other oil booms quite so responsibly. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the state's governor and Legislature were spending oil money as fast as they could get it.
"They ramped 'er up pretty good and never put anything away," he said.
The state ended up raising taxes on oil companies, which prompted the companies to close up shop and move elsewhere, he said. The boom was dead.
Kempenich said states that rely on mineral extraction, like North Dakota's oil and West Virginia's coal and natural gas, have to find a way of saving for the future.
"If you don't, government has a way of taking it. If it's there, it'll get spent if you don't have some way of locking that up," he said.
Sharp said the current oil boom won't last forever, but tucking away money in the Legacy Fund will allow North Dakota to continue reaping benefits from the industry long after the wells stop pumping.
The fund also will have more immediate benefits for the state.
North Dakota recently established an investment plan for its Legacy Fund, which is expected to draw about 6 percent interest each year.
By 2017, all generated interest will be flowed into the state's general revenue fund. Sharp estimates the fund will have $5 billion to $6 billion by then, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in interest each year.
"It's a new revenue source," she said.
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Kessler announced earlier this month a delegation of West Virginia lawmakers would head to North Dakota this year to learn more about the Legacy Fund.
Kessler spokeswoman Lynette Maselli said the office has been "inundated with calls and requests" from both House and Senate members, Democrats and Republicans, who are interested in attending. Maselli said she doesn't know who will attend the trip yet or when it will occur, but she expects those details will be worked out sometime this week.
Kessler has tried to establish a natural gas "Future Fund" in the last several legislative sessions.
This year's version would have set a baseline of natural gas excess tax revenue and then funneled 25 percent of any money over that baseline into a trust fund. The bill died in the Senate Finance Committee.
Maselli said Kessler is hopeful the trip will increase enthusiasm for his measure and help the state as it designs its trust fund.
West Virginia collected $74.7 million in natural gas severance taxes last fiscal year, a slight increase from the $68.8 million collected in fiscal year 2012.
Coal severance taxes, meanwhile, fell $73.4 million between the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years, from $460 million to $386.6 million.