Citing extraordinary conditions unparalleled in the history or our country, and a need to secure sufficient seed and feed for maximum agriculture production, Governor Lynn J. Frazier called for a Special Legislative Session on this date in 1918. The main thrust of the session was to provide and expand bonding authority for counties to obtain seed grain for the upcoming year. Persistent drought over the previous two years had depleted the supply of seed grains and livestock feed at a critical time with the war raging in Europe. Over fifty percent of North Dakota counties were short on seed, and with several years of diminished income due to crop failures, farmers could ill afford to purchase what was available. Counties were in need of a bonding ability to procure funds for the purchase of seed and feed grains to make them available for the use of farmers within their boundaries. There was also a need to establish an office of a State Inspector for Grades, Weights and Measures, to ensure the fair grading of grains.
The special session also included other bills. The Senate introduced twenty-one and the House seventeen, but only fourteen made it through. A resolution was passed for National Prohibition, as well as laws establishing absentee voting for military personnel. The budget and regulations for a State Council of Defense were enacted. Another bill involved a moratorium on farm mortgage payments for military personnel. With many young men in the military service unable to properly operate their farms, they were unable to meet the demands of their mortgage, and foreclosures were increasing. The moratorium would extend for the duration of the war and a reasonable time thereafter. Another bill provided an emergency appropriation for the State Hospital.
With the National Guard in federal service, an attempt to establish a state militia was unsuccessful, with the Home Guard units across the state considered adequate. But the legislature did enact a law defining sabotage, with punishments ranging from one year to life in prison.
With North Dakota troops now in the front-line trenches, the special session accomplished what it set out to do – protect the rights of military servicemen and promote maximum food production for the war effort, with the hope of bringing the boys home as quickly as possible.
Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis
“Journal of the House of the Special Session of the Fifteenth Legislative Assembly,” Bismarck Tribune Publishing Company, 1918
“Journal of the Senate of the Special Session of the Fifteenth Legislative Assembly,” Bismarck Tribune Publishing Company, 1918
“Laws Passed at the Special Session of the Fifteenth Legislative Assembly of the State of North Dakota,” Bismarck Tribune Publishing Company, 1918