Governor Jack Dalrymple: No Special Session

jack dalrymple

Governor Jack Dalrymple announced today that he will not call a special session of the state Legislature to address western North Dakota oil impacts.

In an election year maneuver, Democrats had called for a special session earlier this year, but even some of the most vocal critics of the state’s handling of oil impacts – including Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford – have more recently backed off that push.

Setting the Demcorats’ need for an election year talking point aside, a special session would have done more harm than good when it comes to addressing western needs. While legislators like to deny that it exists, there is a palpable west vs. east divide in the state.

These days western North Dakota is producing the most tax revenues, and experiencing the most direct impacts of the state’s rapid economic, industrial and social growth, but eastern North Dakota has far more political clout.

A special session to address western needs would not address those needs fully, leaving much business for the regular session where it could be put on the backburner by eastern legislators pointing out that the west already got a special session.

I think the best way for western North Dakota to get the most traction is to bring all their needs to the regular session where, as Governor Dalrymple notes, lawmakers can expedite policy.

Democrats will try to make hay over this decision, but I think at this point even among western leaders pragmatism has one out over election year politicking.

Update: Democrats respond predictably:

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that western North Dakota hasn’t spent all the money they were appropriated last session.