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Attorney General Wrigley to ask for more staff, money from the 2023 Legislature

Attorney General Drew Wrigley at a Capitol news conference
Dave Thompson
Attorney General Drew Wrigley at a Capitol news conference

Attorney General Drew Wrigley will be seeking a bigger budget for his office in the 2023 Legislative Session.

Wrigley said that budget request will include more people, merit raises for staff, as well as more equipment and space for the state Laboratory.

"We're not asking for anything we don't feel is critical to the mission of this office," Wrigley said. "We're going to be very open and transparent about all of that."

Wrigley told Capitol reporters he has been meeting with Legislators of both parties, to outline those needs. And he’s hoping Governor Burgum will include these items in his executive budget, which will be presented to lawmakers in the December organizational session.

"We are going to war, to make sure that our budget considerations are given full consideration," Wrigley said.

Wrigley said he’s going ahead with a proposal to put the state Bureau of Criminal Investigations as the supervisor of the state Crime Lab.

Under state law, the crime lab is independent. But law enforcement and prosecutors have been concerned about a backlog of tests.

A forensic scientist who works at the Lab said putting scientists under the administration of law enforcement could jeopardize the lab’s independence, while doing nothing to solve backlog problems.

But Wrigley rejected that argument.

"The science is always distinct," Wrigley said. "It's not like someone could walk in and say, 'I'd really like this DNA test to turn out differently,' and they do something to the machine. It doesn't work that way, can't work that way, and will never work that way."

Wrigley said he expects pushback from defense attorneys — but he said law enforcement supports his proposal.

The agency’s current two-year budget is $96.4 million. Wrigley said he will not disclose his bottom line budget request, until Gov. Burgum's executive budget is released.

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