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House rejects annual 'short session' bill

The House has killed a bill that would have allowed the Legislature to meet in a short session in the even numbered years.

As the Senate amended SB 2218, it would try a one-time short session to see if it would work.

Bills would have to be approved by a select committee, before they could be taken up in a short session.

Supporters say it was partially born out of frustration with the Legislature not having much of a say in how federal CARES Act money was spent. That decision was in the hands of the state’s Emergency Commission and the Legislature’s Budget Section.

"Arguably, not every issue would get chosen, but the priority issues that are most necessary to be addressed by the Legislature could be in this smaller session," said Rep. Jon Nelson (R-Rugby).

But Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) – the chairman of the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee – said his committee is working on amendments to another bill, that would require a special session to deal with special funding from the federal government.

"After a certain level of spending, the Governor would have to call us in to session to spend any more money," Kasper said. "That's in the works."

Kasper said he agrees lawmakers should have had a voice in how that federal COVID relief money was spent.

The measure failed 68 to 25.

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