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Construction could delay a special session

It could be a potential impediment to a special Legislative session.

The state Supreme Court’s ruling that the OMB Budget Bill is unconstitutional will likely lead to a special session.

However, the House and Senate chambers may not be ready.

Legislative Council director John Bjornson said the Legislative chambers have been under some construction since the session adjourned in May.

"We've undergone an HVAC system upgrade, and we're still in the process," Bjornson said. "It's a major project, replacing some equipment original to the building."

Bjornson said the two chambers — plus the Brynhild Haugland Room — do not have heat or air conditioning.

"We hope that by the end of October, the contractors will have progressed to the point where there might be some air movement," Bjornson said. "But there certainly won't be heat, in the event there is a special session in November."

During the pandemic, members could be allowed to participate virtually. But Bjornson said that rule was repealed. He said the Legislature could change its rules.

"The problem — to change the rules, they need to be in-person," Bjornson said. "That would pose a problem, since we would have to bring them all together anyway."

In addition, Bjornson said Legislative Council staff will be looking at how many bills will be needed to take care of all of the subsections of SB 2015.

"Our reading of the opinion would suggest that each distinct subject would have to be considered separately," Bjornson said. "If they would consider everything that was in the original bill, there would be a significant number of bills — potentially 50 or so."

Legislative leaders are meeting with Gov. Burgum next week to discuss what happens next.

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