Legislature | Prairie Public Broadcasting


Wardner: Stay with 47 districts

Jun 14, 2021

North Dakota's Senate Majority Leader believes the number of Legislative districts should remain at 47.

A special committee on redistricting will start its work later this summer, and will redraw the lines based on Census data that will become available in August. The committee will also discuss the number of districts.

Sen. Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said he believes 47 has worked very well for Legislative districts. Wardner also said at 47, some rural districts will be lost, and areas with growing population will see districts added.

North Dakota’s Legislative Management Committee has chosen the issues lawmakers will study over the 2021-2022 interim.

"We have 50 studies that were approved for this upcoming biennium," said Sen. Raymon Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), the committee's chairman. "Last biennium, we had 47. So there wasn't much of a change in that regard."

Holmberg said there will be 25 or 26 interim committees. But he said there are some committees established in the past that won’t be around this time.

1987 Legislature

May 12, 2021


The 1987 North Dakota Legislative session was historic. Democrats, who already controlled most state offices and the congressional delegation, won control of the North Dakota Senate for the first time. In the Minot-area District 5 Senate race, Democrat Larry Schoenwald beat Republican Mike Timm by a mere 5 votes. That led to a legal fight that went to the state Supreme Court, with plaintiffs arguing that  over 29 voters cast ballots in the wrong district, but the court ruled that only the Legislature can decide contested elections. The ruling handed victory, and control of the Senate to the Democrats, giving them  27 seats to 26. Republicans still controlled the House, 61 to 45.

No money for Jamestown amusement park

Apr 29, 2021

The Legislature has approved the budget bill for the state Commerce Department, after lawmakers rejected a proposal for a one-time $5 million grant for a proposed amusement park in Jamestown.

The $5 million would have to be matched, and the developer could then approach the state Investment Board for further money, through loans or grants. It would be built on state owned land near the National Buffalo Museum.

Burgum vetoes 4th bill

Apr 27, 2021

Gov. Doug Burgum has vetoed his fourth bill of the 2021 Legislative Session.

The bill is SB 2290. That bill would require a special Legislative session, if the state receives more than $50 million in unexpected federal funding. It also would require that for amounts under $50 million, the Emergency Commission would still be able to make a recommendation on how the money is to be spent, but the Legislature’s Budget Section could make changes to that recommendation. Right now, the Budget Section can only approve or reject those spending plans.

House refuses late 'vaccine passport' bill

Apr 22, 2021

An attempt to introduce a delayed bill by bringing it to the House floor failed.

It required a two-thirds vote of the House.

Rep. Sebastian Ertelt (R-Lisbon) made the motion for the delayed bill, which was not discussed in a delayed bills committee. The bill would have prohibited employers from requiring so-called “vaccine passports” of their employees.

A day earlier, the House passed a so-called “hog house” bill that would have prohibited state or local governments from requiring businesses to mandate those vaccine passports.

Higher Education budget on its way to Gov. Burgum

Apr 21, 2021

The budget bill for higher education is normally one of the last bills the Legislature acts on before adjournment.

But not this time.

Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks) told the Senate that in presenting the bill, as the House amended it, he was channeling Julius Caesar.

"Veni, vidi, vici," Holmberg said. "To use my vernacular -- we came, we saw, we concurred."

The comment drew laughter from the Senate chamber.

The Senate had earlier passed the bill unanimously.

'Nullification' bill defeated in ND House

Apr 20, 2021

A bill designed to allow the Legislature to nullify federal laws has itself been nullified.

The measure would have allowed the appointment of a Legislative interim committee to review new and existing federal laws, and recommend to the Legislature that they not be followed.

Rep. Lawrence Klemin (R-Bismarck) chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Klemin told the House he believes the bill –HB 1282 – is itself unconstitutional.

Time change bill defeated

Apr 20, 2021

A bill to change the time in North Dakota has run out of time.

The House rejected HB 1371. It would have put the entire state on year-round Daylight Saving Time. It would be dependent on Congress okaying it, and if Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota did the same.

The bill’s main sponsor – Rep. Bill Devlin (R-Finley)  – didn’t like the amended version.

"I never expected a leader like the state of North Dakota would have to wait for three other states to do something before we could do it," Devlin said on the House floor.

Summer special session possible

Apr 19, 2021

North Dakota lawmakers may be coming back to Bismarck this summer for a special session, dealing only with how to spend federal money coming from the America Recovers Act.

The state will be receiving more than $1 billion.  The question is: How can the state spend those funds?