Update: ND Legislature sues Gov. Burgum over line-item vetoes

Dec 8, 2017

Gov. Doug Burgum (R).
Credit Prairie Public file

The North Dakota Legislature has now filed suit against Governor Doug Burgum over some of his line-item vetoes.

Burgum used that line-item power to change parts of various spending bills. Lawmakers argue Burgum deleted words or phrases in budget bills that change their intent – and they say by doing that, Burgum went beyond his powers.

"This has always been about making sure the integrity of the various branches of government is upheld," sais House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo). "We felt the line had been crossed, and the Governor was legislating with a veto pen."

Carlson says Burgum took out parts of sentences -- describing where money should be spent -- but left the money intact.

"We don't want this to happen in the future," Carlson said.

In a statement, Burgum said, “It’s disappointing to see scarce taxpayer dollars being spent on a costly lawsuit over something that’s already been addressed in an Attorney General’s opinion.”

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued this statement:  “We just received the petition and are reviewing it. Once we have done so I will consult with the Governor and make recommendations on how best to proceed and to defend the state’s interests, consistent with my duty to the Constitution of North Dakota.”

The lawsuit was filed at the North Dakota Supreme Court.