State of the Judiciary and State of the Relationship speeches return to the Legislature | Prairie Public Broadcasting

State of the Judiciary and State of the Relationship speeches return to the Legislature

Dec 31, 2018

North Dakota Indian Affairs executive director Scott Davis.

When the Legislature gavels in Thursday, it will spend that day listening to speeches.

Chief Justice Gerald Vandewalle will give the “State of the Judiciary” address Thursday morning, followed by a Tribal representative giving the “State of the Relationship” talk following that. In the afternoon, lawmakers will hear Gov. Doug Burgum’s “State of the State” address.

It’s a change in tradition, because normally, those speeches would be given on different days.

"You talk about probably not utilizing our time as well as we should have," said Sen. Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "It was tradition."

Wardner said this makes a lot more sense.

"We're going to be using the time for hearings and committee work," Wardner said. "It's not for ceremony and 'taking it easy.' We're going to start the session full throttle."

In 2017, the Legislature canceled the traditional “State of the Relationship” address, featuring a Native American tribal leader. Lawmakers also canceled the “State of the Judiciary” address, meaning the only formal address lawmakers received was Gov. Burgum’s “State of the State” speech.

Now, those speeches have been reinstated.

"This is a big deal," said North Dakota Indian Affairs executive director Scott Davis. "We worked really hard to get that speech to the floor."

Davis wasn't happy that the speech in 2017 was suspended.

"That was a hard pill to swallow," Davis said. "I don't think it was right. But that's history."

Davis said looming over the session last year were the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline. But he said he thinks relationships are being repaired after that.

"I can honestly say between Standing Rock's chairman and the Governor, that relationship is very good," Davis said. "I have talked to tribal council members, and everyone is positive, and wanting to continue on the path we were on prior to DAPL."

The “State of the Relationship” speech is scheduled at 11 am Thursday in the House chamber.