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Politics & Government

Bill on filling US Senate vacancies on its way to the Governor

The state Senate has passed a bill that calls for a special election in the event a US Senator resigns or dies in office.

The election would have to take place within 95 days of the vacancy. Democrats have dubbed it “the Heidi Bill,” because of rumors Senator Heidi Heitkamp was planning to run for Governor in 2016 – and if she won, would be able to appoint someone to finish out the final two years of her senate term.

Democrats offered floor amendments to change the bill. One would allow a Governor to appoint a temporary successor until that special election was held. Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider (D-Grand Forks) urged passage.

“Whatever your motivations are on this bill -- whether they're political or policy -- think through the policy," said Schneider. "We want North Dakota to have two US Senators at all times. That's way too important of a position to leave in the hands of only one person.”

The second amendment would have extended the special election requirement to all statewide elected offices. Both were defeated. And the bill passed 27 to 20.

“That's good policy," said Sen. Dick Dever (R-Bismarck). "Some people talk about policy, and some about politics, and which one you're promoting depends on your perspective. In this chamber, in those regards, there's nobody innocent."

The measure now goes to Governor Dalrymple.

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