executive power | Prairie Public Broadcasting

executive power

The state Senate passed a measure to limit some of the Governor’s executive powers in times of an emergency.

The measure says a Governor’s emergency order would be good for 30 days, and then before another 30 days, the Governor must call legislators into a special session. That would mean the order could last up to 60 days, before the Legislature would weigh-in on extending or ending the declared emergency.

A state senator has introduced a bill to make the State Health Officer and the director of the Department of Human Services elected positions.

Right now, both are appointed.

Sen. Jason Heitkamp (R-Wyndmere) said the suggestion comes from a constituent. He said the Health Officer has a lot of power, as evidenced by the orders during the pandemic emergency.

"If the state health officer has the power to shut down a lot of our state, it should be elected," Heitkamp said.

A Legislative committee is considering a bill requiring a Governor to call lawmakers into special session, if there is an extended emergency, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill would allow the Legislature to weigh-in on executive orders. Lawmakers would be allowed to meet remotely. Lawmakers would have to be convened after the first 30 days of a declared emergency.

The bill's main sponsor -- Sen. Janne Myrdal (R-Edinburgh) -- told the Senate Judiciary Committee the Legislative branch should be involved in the discussions over responding to an emergency.

A northeastern North Dakota lawmaker has introduced a bill to give the Legislature a seat at the table, when an emergency is declared, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Janne Myrdal (R-Edinburg) intoduced it. The bill requires the Governor to call a special session, if a declared emergency extends beyond an initial 30-day period. The bill would allow that session to be held remotely, using technology.

"We felt there's holes in the Century Code," Myrdal said. "It doesn't allow legislators and local representativs to be a part of the decision-making process."