Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Lawmakers counting down ‘Days to 5’ as session hits home stretch

BISMARCK - Efforts to polish budgets and hammer out differences between House and Senate versions of bills have shifted into high gear at the Capitol as lawmakers race to wrap up the session with at least five days to spare in case they need to r...

BISMARCK – Efforts to polish budgets and hammer out differences between House and Senate versions of bills have shifted into high gear at the Capitol as lawmakers race to wrap up the session with at least five days to spare in case they need to reconvene later.

Thursday marked the 60th day of the session, which is limited to 80 days every two years.

The House and Senate didn’t convene on Friday, so that makes April 24 the target date finishing in 75 legislative days or less, said House Majority Leader Al Carlson, who keeps a “Days to 5” peel-off calendar hanging above his desk.

“The clock is ticking,” he said.

All House-passed bills must be moved out of Senate committees by Friday, and vice-versa, so appropriations committees will work furiously next week to finish budgets and spending bills. Otherwise, the next three weeks will consist primarily of House-Senate conference committees and floor sessions.

ADVERTISEMENT

Carlson said that with the state’s economy so volatile in terms of the energy industry and revenues from sales and income taxes, it’s important to bank at least five days so the Legislature can reconvene and make adjustments if revenues fall short of projections.

“We’d come back to fix what’s short, not find ways to spend more money,” he said.

Progress slightly ahead

A total of 853 bills were introduced this session – 11 more than in 2013 – and progress is slightly ahead of last session.

After Thursday’s floor votes, there were 299 bills waiting for action, compared with 336 at the same point last session, according to Legislative Council.

Lawmakers have defeated 329 bills, compared with 277 at this point last session, and have sent 221 bills to the governor for his signature, 11 more than through Day 60 in 2013. Four bills have been withdrawn this session, compared with 19 in 2013.

‘Don’t be a sound bite’

Supporters of a bill that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation – mostly Democrats – dominated the time-of-possession during Thursday’s emotional 90-minute debate on the House floor.

ADVERTISEMENT

The chatter beforehand was that House Republican leadership had urged caucus members not to stand up and inflame the debate, and that seemed to be confirmed when Rep. Christopher Olson of West Fargo rose to share his reasons for voting against Senate Bill 2279.

“Some have advised me that it may not be wise, but I feel that I do need to explain,” he said.

After the vote, Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, who supported the bill, said GOP leadership told caucus members something along the lines of “Don’t be a sound bite.” Rep. Thomas Beadle, also a Fargo Republican who championed the bill, confirmed Hawken’s interpretation of the message.

Carlson denied giving that order and said caucus members are free to speak on a bill if they so choose.

“They were told the best floor speech you can give is that button on your desk,” he said.

Aside from Carlson and Olson, the only Republican to speak against SB2279 on the floor was the bill’s carrier, Rep. Robin Weisz of Hurdsfield.

Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at mnowatzki@forumcomm.com

What To Read Next
Host Bryan Piatt is joined by Matt Entz, head coach of the North Dakota State Bison football team, to discuss the pressures of leading the program and how mental health is addressed with his players.
Artificial intelligence can now act as an artist or a writer. Does that mean AI is ready to play doctor? Many institutions, including Mayo Clinic, believe that AI is ready to become a useful tool.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack lists the various reason why some older adults may begin to shuffle as they age.
The Buffalo Bills safety who suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football in January is urging people to learn how to save lives the way his was saved.