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Legislature

  • North Dakota’s Legislature has 80 days every session to do its business, and that can be a tight clock. But that time-limit used to be even tighter – only 60 days. On this date in 1976, voters narrowly approved a constitutional amendment that increased the 60 days to 80 “natural days.”
  • The Legislature’s first gathering in the second North Dakota Capitol was for a special session called by the since-deposed governor to investigate his federal court conviction. The building was completed in 1934 after the previous Capitol burned in 1930.
  • The populist Nonpartisan League ushered in a new era to North Dakota’s state government a century ago. The League’s legacy includes the state-owned Bank of North Dakota and the State Mill and Elevator. But the League also pushed a raft of changes for the state constitution, including a law for recalling elected officials.
  • North Dakota’s 1991 legislative session was one of the last to have a split statehouse, with Republicans having a majority in the House and Democrats narrowly controlling the Senate. The session was short by today’s standards. Lawmakers used 67 of the 80 days allowed by the state constitution to write new laws and pass budgets.
  • Secretary of State Al Jaeger says more than 29,000 signatures were tossed, for a number of reasons
  • On this date in 1890, sparks were flying on the floor of the senate during North Dakota's first legislative session. The attorney general was called a brainless parrot, and two senators were censured for insults. Republican Senators Frederick Barlow, of Barlow, and David Dodds, of Lakota, had opposed a bill, and in doing so, they compared other senators to “unprincipled demagogues, political deadbeats and shysters of every stamp and affiliation.”
  • One of the most dramatic punishments meted out in the North Dakota Legislature was against a life insurance agent convicted of attempting to bribe state lawmakers.
  • Heated moments and hostile politics have often gripped North Dakota’s Legislature. In 1890, the state’s first legislative session included the censure of two senators for insults. One of them was replaced as president pro tempore.
  • North Dakota’s Nonpartisan League is remembered for the populist surge in state politics a century ago. Among the most well-known of the League’s legacy are the state-owned Bank of North Dakota and the State Mill and Elevator, overseen by the Industrial Commission. The League-controlled Legislature also passed a law banning vaccination mandates, which stood for more than 50 years.
  • The Dickinson Republican has served 32 years in the Legislature.