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ND legislators begin special session

By Todd McDonald

Bismarck, ND – State lawmakers are back in Bismarck for a special legislative session, as called for by Governor John Hoeven.

The focus of the session will be to redraw the state's legislative boundaries, to meet the changes in population shown in the most recent census. The issue could be contentious as lawmakers from rural areas try to keep representation in place for those seeing declining population, while those from the urban centers look to boost their numbers to meet demands of a growing population base.

In opening comments from the House, Majority Leader Wes Belter, a Republican from Leonard, called on lawmakers to make sure communications don't break down?

"I guess I'm just asking each and every legislator to be patient, to keep the doors of communication open. It's a difficult task because each and every one of us are affected by the lines that are drawn in this reapportionment process and that process is a give and take process. So as we go through this week, lets remember that we all have to live together after this all over with."

Rolette Representative Merle Boucher, the House Minority Leader, likened the special session to a family gathering?

"We got together this morning , we hugged, we shook hands, and we slapped everybody on the back. We're glad to see each other we know. Like any family reunion during the course of the week there'll be a few arguments and a falling out here and there, but that's part of the process. And then when we're done with our work we'll shake hands, hug and we'll go home again till next time."

Lawmakers are hoping to have their work done by the end of this week.