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Politics & Government

Legislature to reconvene June 16th

The Legislature will reconvene next Tuesday morning – to finish its work on the one remaining bill left hanging after lawmakers adjourned more than a month ago.

The Legislative Management Committee approved the date – after accepting what a special committee came up with in terms of dealing with the funding bill for the Public Employees Retirement System. The chairman of that committee – Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks) – says the committee’s action sets the stage for the reconvened session.

"Once the curtain goes up at 8 AM next Tuesday, the 17 members of Legislative Management's role is done, and we go sit in the audience like everybody else," Holmberg told the committee.

The bill was the subject of a dispute between the House and Senate – over some language the House wanted to put on the bill, concerning the process PERS would use to pick a health insurance carrier for state employees.

Most of the Democrats on the management committee voted for the motion. But they raised some concerns. Senate Majority Leader Mac Schneider (D-Grand Forks) says it seems like a new tactic.

"If one chamber or the other doesn't get its way in a policy matter, that chamber will threaten to not fund agency budgets unless that policy change is passed through the Legislature as part of the budget," said Schneider. "This is a huge step away from the garden-variety give and take that the chambers have on funding levels within an appropriations bill."

"I think all of us have learned some lessons," said Holmberg. "Hopefully, we will take them all to heart as we go down the road into the 65th and subsequent sessions."

The bill is still in the Senate. A conference committee will have to be re-appointed, and that committee will consider what the special committee agreed to. Both chambers will weigh in – and leaders say it could be done in a half-day.

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