Lawmakers Probably Aren’t Finishing Today: “My Guess Is Day or Two More”


“The Pioneer Family” stands in front of the North Dakota State Capitol on July 14, 2016, in Bismarck. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The goal for finishing North Dakota’s 2017 legislative session was day 70 of the constitutionally allowed 80.

That was last week. Obviously, since lawmakers are still in session, it didn’t happen.

The fall back deadline was today. When lawmakers broke for the weekend the idea was to come back this week and finish by Wednesday evening.

That doesn’t seem to be in the cards as of this afternoon.

“I’m not sure, if we do it will likely be pretty late,” one House lawmaker told me when I asked about finishing today.

“My guess is day or two more,” another said.

“Doubt it, unless late,” a third replied.

My colleague John Hageman notes that the conference committee schedule is pretty light for a group of people trying to get out of town:

This is not a good look for Republicans. Every deadline for sine die they miss, be it formal or informal, is more evidence for the case about legislative incompetence Democrats will make in the 2018 cycle.

What’s frustrating is how much Republican leadership has contributed to this problem. Anyone who watches the floor sessions in the House and Senate is familiar with the pep talks House Majority Leader Al Carlson, and his counterpart Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, give their members about getting work done quickly and efficiently. Yet both Carlson and Wardner are guilty of derailing legislative progress with their pet issues.

Carlson, as one example, dropped a hugely controversial gambling bill late in the session. Wardner, on the other hand, tried to muscle a huge bailout for his hometown university into the OMB budget.

How can lawmakers expect to get their work down when their own leaders are sabotaging them?

I hope, next session, that lawmakers give some serious consideration to changing up their leadership.