Legislature | Prairie Public Broadcasting


District 4 GOP Representative is resigning

Sep 27, 2018

A state legislator from northwest North Dakota has resigned.

Rep. Bill Oliver (R-New Town) is resigning, effective October 30th.  In his letter, Oliver said “My life situation has changed, and I feel I cannot represent my constituents with the zeal necessary.”

Oliver sent the letter to House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) and Legislative Management chairman Sen. Ray Holmberg. (R-Grand Forks).

Holmberg said he will be sending a letter to the GOP District 4 chairman.

A Republican State Representative from Minot has filed petitions to run for the State Senate – as an independent.

Andrew Maragos has served in the House from 1993 to 2005, and returned to the House in the 2011 session. He was defeated for the GOP nomination in the June primary.

"Those people who have supported me in the past, and liked the way I represented them, asked me to continue," Maragos said. "When people that have supported you ask you to do something for them after all those years of doing something for you, you don't say 'no.'"

Bjornson named Legislative Council director

Jul 12, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s Legislative Management Committee has hired Jon Bjornson as the new director of the Legislative Council.

If you are not a legislator, you may be wondering – what’s that?

"Not a lot of people know who we are, what we are and what we do," Bjornson said.

The Council writes legislation, manages fiscal affairs and provides legal advice to legislators. Bjornson said the Council is the only staff lawmakers have.

"You are citizen legislators," Bjornson told Legislative Management. "All the other branches and elected officials have their own staffs."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Supreme Court is being asked to declare some of Gov. Doug Burgum’s line-item vetoes unconstitutional.

And at the same time, the high court is being asked to declare the Legislature's Budget Section has been given too much power over some spending decisions.


Dakota’s territorial lawmakers convened in Bismarck in January of 1885. It was the first legislative session after the territory’s capitol was yanked from Yankton. By a capitol commission’s five to four vote in 1883, Yankton lost the “seat of government,” and that led to backlash including court battles and the removal of Governor Nehemiah Ordway.

It’s a break from tradition – but the minority floor leaders in both the House and Senate will serve on standing committees in the 2017 Legislative session.

That’s partially due to the Democrats’ depleted numbers.

Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford) will serve on the Senate Human Services Committee.

"My first session was 2007, and no leader since that time has been on a committee," Heckaman said. "I'll be doubly busy that way."

Heckaman said she’s happy to be back on the Human Service Committee. But she said it’s not a numbers game.

More security for the 2017 Legislative Session

Nov 18, 2016

Legislative leaders are meeting with the North Dakota Highway Patrol to discuss stepped-up security at the Capitol for the 2017 Legislative session.

It comes in light of the continuing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Protestors have come to the Capitol on a few occasions.

North Dakota’s House Majority Leader says legislators should be more involved in revenue forecasting.

"There's only one branch of government that can spend money," said Rep. Al Carlson (R-Fargo). "That's the Legislature."

Moody's Analytics is the consultant to the state's Office of Management and Budget for revenue forecasts. Carlson told reporters other state legislatures have hired their own forecasting consultants, separate from their Governors'.

Lawmakers gather in Bismarck next week for a projected three-day Legislative session.

The issue: dealing with a projected $310 million shortfall.

They’ll be gaveled in at 9 am Tuesday. And at 9:30, Gov. Jack Dalrymple will address a joint session.

Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider (D-Grand Forks) said he expects the session will be limited to the pressing budget matter.

Courtesy ND Legislature

Legislators are preparing for next week’s projected three day special session.

The session is to deal with a projected $310 million dollar state budget shortfall, due to low oil and agriculture prices.  But legislative leaders say it is not a time to panic.

"The economy is okay," said Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "It does have some issues that need to be resolved."