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Conferees have to settle legislative pay raise issue

BISMARCK - With a shouted, unanimous "nay!" the Senate rejected legislative pay raises Wednesday, contradicting colleagues in the House and returning the issue to a conference committee.

BISMARCK - With a shouted, unanimous "nay!" the Senate rejected legislative pay raises Wednesday, contradicting colleagues in the House and returning the issue to a conference committee.

The action was on Senate Bill 2001, the 2005-07 appropriations bill for the legislative branch.

The House had quietly tacked on an amendment two weeks ago granting lawmakers a $10-per-day increase in session pay to $135 starting with the 2007 session. The House also added $5 a day to the pay for Appropriations subcommittee chairmen.

The Senate refused to concur last week, which put the bill into conference committee. When the committee met Wednesday, House conferees voted down the Senate's motion to remove the raises.

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Then the Senate conferees appeared to capitulate by voting with House members to have the Senate accept the House's version of the bill.

But they did so suspecting the full Senate wouldn't accept it.

"It will not hurt the feelings of any members of that conference committee if you turn down this conference committee report and send the bill back," Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, told the Senate when it convened later in the day.

When Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple asked all those in favor to say "aye," there was silence. "Opposed, say nay," he instructed, and everyone shouted, "nay!"

The Senate re-appointed the same conferees: Holmberg, Sen. Ed Kringstad, R-Bismarck, and Sen. Elroy Lindaas, D-Mayville. No new meeting with House conferees has been scheduled.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830

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