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Requiring the state auditor to get legislative permission for certain audits likely unconstitutional

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says a portion of the state Auditor’s budget requiring permission of the Legislature’s Audit and Fiscal Review Committee before the Auditor does certain kinds of audits is ‘likely unconstitutional.”

In a formal opinion, requested by State Auditor Josh Gallion, Stenehjem says the language diminishes the Auditor’s independence, and entrusts an “inherently executive power” in the Legislative branch. He said if a court were to rule, it would likely find it to be a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

The language was inserted into the budget bill in a House-Senate conference committee meeting shortly before the end of the Legislative session.

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