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The Legislative Session that goes on and on

One could say this has been a strange time for the North Dakota Legislature.

Lawmakers have had to deal with COVID protocols, two large federal tranches of COVID relief money, and the upcoming redistricting session.

"With COVID-19 protocols, nothing surprises me any more," said House Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R-Carrington). "We just have to continue marching forward."

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said lawmakers have lived it, and made it.

"Things have really gone well for us," Wardner said.

Wardner said the Legislature was able to allow remote participation by legislators, as well as remote testimony from citizens. And Wardner said people can now tune into committee meetings, as well as House and Senate floor sessions, and see what’s going on.

"It's quite a transformation," Wardner said. "I'm really proud of our state."

Wardner also gave kudos to his fellow legislators.

"They're tough people," Wardner said. "They work hard."

House Minority Leader Josh Boschee said it has been odd.

"It has been a full-time session for us since February, 2020, when we started preparing for the pandemic," Boschee said. "I'm hopeful for the middle of November, that we all get to go home and hopefully have a rest."

The special session begins Nov. 8th. On the agenda: redistricting, and how to spend the $1 billion in the latest federal COVID relief package. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been meeting to go through the requests for funding from the federal ARPA money. The committees will meet next week to determine what will make the cut for the special session, and what items will have to wait for the next session.