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Special session looms after ND Supreme Court rejects the catch-all OMB budget bill

The North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that the Office of Management and Budget bill – SB 2015, the last bill voted on in the 2023 Legislative Session – violates the state Constitution.

The OMB bill hastraditionally been used as a “catch-all” measure – that goes beyond the budget of the OMB office. This version had 70 sections.

The ruling came in a case brought by the Board of Trustees of the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System. One of the sections of the bill changed the makeup of that board so that legislators have a majority on the Board. The PERS board sought an injunction against that section of the measure.

But in its ruling, the Supreme Court says that – under Article Four, Section 13 – the Constitution said no bill “may embrace more than one subject.” The Court said to choose which sections meet Constitutional muster and which don’t would ‘’ improperly inject it into the Legislature’s domain.”

In a statement, Gov. Burgum said the ruling will lead to a special Legislative session – and he plans to meet with legislators to determine the next step.

House Majority Leader Mike Lefor (R-Dickinson) said he’s met with Senate Majority Leader David Hogue and the director of the Legislative Council concerning the ruling.

"We didn't know how the Supreme Court was going to rule," Lefor said in an interview. "Now that they have, we have something tangible to work with. And I think moving forward, we want to be very transparent, thoughtful and deliberative on how we're going to work through this."

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley called it a "significant" ruling.

"What appears to be built into the ruling itself is a 30 day time period, during which, presumably, the Legislature can deal with this matter, reconvene in special session of some kind," Wrigley said.

Legislative leaders and chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will meet with Burgum Monday.

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