North Dakota lawmakers begin the 2017 legislative session today with state revenues significantly reduced and little evidence that the state will be able to accurately predict revenues into the next biennium.
Put simply, there just isn’t going to be a lot of money to spend. So maybe it’s not surprising then that, per data reported by the Secretary of State’s office, through yesterday morning there were only 328 people registered to lobby lawmakers as they debate how to allocate the state’s reduced resources.
That’s a 40 percent decline from the previous session, and by far the lowest total since 2009 the earliest session for which I have data.
That number will definitely go up. There will be people and organizations who, as their issues come up during the session, choose to register so that they may legally engage.
But I don’t think there will be so many as to make up this gap. The state’s fiscal situation means a much smaller pie to fight over.
As for who must register, per state law, a person who directly or indirectly “Attempts to secure the passage, amendment, or defeat of any legislation by the legislative assembly or the approval or veto of any legislation by the governor of the state” or “Attempts to influence decisions made by the legislative council or by an interim committee of the legislative council” must register as a lobbyist.
Private citizens advocating on their own behalf, representatives of state and local governments acting in an official capacity, and people invited by legislative committee leaders are generally exempt from having to register.