ND legislature Weekly Update by Counsel Jack McDonald.

04-22-2019 | NDBA

Today is National Garlic Day and you could say things are getting a bit garlicky and tart as North Dakota’s 66th Legislative Assembly struggles toward closure. Monday will be Day 72 of its allowable 80 legislative days. I believe leaders in both houses were hoping for adjournment next Friday, April 26 – the 76th legislative day. This would give them an extra four days to call themselves into special session. With no such extra days, only the Governor can call them into session. However, that Friday adjournment is looking like wishful thinking as around 80 conference committees to continue to try to work out differences between the two chambers. Included among those are some real biggies, including SB 2012, the four billion dollar plus Department of Human Services budget that includes Medicaid Expansion, many agency budgets, the two difficult ethics bills (HB 1521 & SB 2148) and SB 2015, the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) traditional session closer.

The media took a bit of a hit with SB 2221, the bill that extends exempt status of legislature emails to those with any public officer or employee. We did manage to put a few restrictions on the bill in the Senate, but the conference committee gave in to the House Thursday and accepted the House amendments for complete protection. We now have the situation where emails from Sen. Hoeven or Gov. Burgum to state officials are public records, but not those of legislators. We managed to get a few media-friendly changes in the House ethics bill, HB 1521, but not many. We’ll work with the conference committee to maybe get a few more. The Senate ethics bill, SB 2148, is still in the House Committee. It may get turned into a study or just defeated.

As usual, attached is my Master List of media-related bills I’ve following this session. The current status of each bill is in the third column.

Let me know if you have any questions. And, best wishes to all for a Happy Easter!