Legislative leaders awaiting attorney general's opinion on Burgum vetoes

Jun 1, 2017

Legislative Management Committee meeting 5/31/17.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Republican leaders in the North Dakota Legislature are awaiting an Attorney General’s opinion on some of Governor Burgum’s line item vetoes.

House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) asked for the opinion after Burgum vetoed items dealing with Legislative interim studies and some other items. Carlson told the Legislative Management Committee they're looking for answers.

"Did he (Burgum) violate the Separation of Powers by legislating from the Governor's Office?" Carlson said. He wants a one-day “veto override” special session. That decision would be up to the Legislative Management committee.

Wardner agrees with the premise of the opinion request.

"Yeah, I think the Governor overstepped his bounds on this stuff," Wardner said.

But as for a special veto session, Wardner said it's not that simple.

"We have mixed feelings on different issues," Wardner said. "It would be terrible if we went in for a veto override, and then came out and nothing was overridden."

It takes a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override a veto.

The Management committee will meet again June 13th. Carlson said he would have to be assured that both houses will have the two-thirds votes required to overturn the vetoes.

"There's no reason to come in and not accomplish anything," Carlson said. "All we would do is spend some money. We'll work this out before we ever come back."