Court: Some of Burgum's vetoes improper, Legislative delegation to Budget Section unconstitutional

Jul 31, 2018

The North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled Go. Doug Burgum issued improper line-item vetoes in four of five cases.

But the high court also ruled that the Legislature cannot delegate spending power to its Budget Section.

Burgum had vetoed parts of sentences concerning some spending issues. The court ruled that was improper. But the court struck down portions of two bills that gave the Budget Section say over when appropriated money could be spent, saying it was an unconstitutional delegation of power over the purse strings to a committee. The court held the Legislature had – as the opinion stated – “improperly encroached upon the role of the executive, and also bypassed the mandatory legislative process.”

The Budget Section consists of members of both House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and Legislative floor leaders.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem had issued an opinion about some of those line-item vetoes, saying they were improper. He also said the spending delegation to the Budget Section was unconstitutional. In a statement, Stenehjem said he was pleased with the decision.  In his statement, Gov. Burgum said the Court “validated” the original intent which was to – as he put it – “protect executive branch authority from encroachment.”