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North Dakota Lawmakers to Redo Budget Bill in Upcoming Return to State Capital

BISMARCK, N.D. (KUMV) – The North Dakota Supreme Court voided a budget bill last week, which allocated millions towards the state Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Lawmakers will have to gather in Bismarck to address the issue.

State Supreme Court Justices said Senate Bill 2015 violated North Dakota’s ‘single subject’ clause, arguing that an amendment calling for additional lawmakers to be added to the Public Employees Retirement System Board doesn’t directly involve funding OMB.

Senate Bill 2015, the Office of Management and Budget funding bill, is a 39-page document with 68 different sections. OMB is usually the last bill passed during the legislative session and serves as a cleanup to correct any language or appropriation numbers.

Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, R-Williston, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked with five other members of the House and Senate in a conference committee to craft SB 2015.

“The PERS board is a human resources issue which is within the power of the OMB. We felt that it obviously fit within the OMB’s jurisdiction and should have been in that bill,” said Bekkedahl.

Bekkedahl said putting additional amendments to the OMB bill has been done for decades. Something different, however, was that there were no Democrats involved with the bill.

“We were frustrated with the process then. It’s part of the reason I voted against the OMB budget when it came to the house floor. I think the Supreme Court was right to call into question this entire process,” said Rep. Zac Ista, D-Grand Forks, house minority leader.

House Majority Leader Mike Lefor, R-Dickinson, said the bill will need to be split into separate ones, divided between the policy and appropriations committees. He and other leaders are working with Gov. Doug Burgum, R-ND, on a plan on how to proceed.

The attorney general is requesting a temporary stay on the justice’s ruling to prevent any funding issues for departments impacted, giving legislators more time to plan.

Leaders have two choices on how to gather. They have five days left in the biennium to meet or they can have Burgum call a special session. If they use their allowed time, there’s a 90-day period between the governor’s signing and the bill going into law, which may not be fast enough for OMB. If there’s a special session, there’s no limit on what Congress can do during that period, meaning other bills could be introduced.

Source : KFYR