Bill requiring disclosure of lawmaker-owned property is, with some tweaks, a good idea


MINOT, N.D. — North Dakotans want their state lawmakers to be part-timers.

I don’t have, like, polling data on this or anything, but I know it to be true, because every time I argue that perhaps our lawmakers aren’t paid enough, or that perhaps our public interest in a state government consisting of separate and co-equal branches necessitates full-time lawmakers, it’s made very clear to me, by you my audience, that I’m full of it.

If we’re to have part-time lawmakers paid a wage they can’t make a living on, then we must accept that they will have “day jobs” and that those pursuits of personal income may at times intersect with their official duties.

Nor should this be a problem, as long as we have transparency when it comes to those intersections.

A bill draft under consideration by the Government Administration Committee seeks to bring some of that transparency to the state government’s leasing of real estate owned by lawmakers. A 2019 report by reporter John Hageman revealed that this actually happens quite a bit. The bill draft would seek to not only shine a light on the property owned by lawmakers, but also prohibit the state from leasing that property.

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