Plain Talk: ‘There are a big number of legislators who are tired of politics’


MINOT, N.D. — Election Day has come and gone, and in North Dakota, that means a new session of the state Legislature is looming. There will be an organizational meeting and a budget address from Gov. Doug Burgum in December, and then the regular session commences in January, tasked with tackling issues ranging from income tax and property tax relief to child care and water needs.

And the Legislature will go about its business with new leaders. Two long-time chairs of the House and Senate appropriations committees are no longer in the Legislature. Two long-serving lawmakers who served as majority leaders last session have retired.

Their replacements — Sen. David Hogue of Minot and Rep. Mike Lefor of Dickinson, now the Senate and House majority leaders, respectively — joined this episode of Plain Talk to discuss the upcoming session.

They talked about the challenges a newly approved term limits amendment to the state constitution poses when it comes to recruiting competent lawmakers and mentoring legislative leadership. They also discussed how they’ll approach their relationship with Gov. Burgum, who had a sometimes rocky tenure with their predecessors, and how they’ll manage sprawling caucus that make up almost the entirety of the chambers they serve in.

Lefor, specifically, said he’s focused on taking “the wind out of politics” in the House. “There are a big number of legislators who are tired of the politics,” he continued, saying he’d like to tamp down the theatrics and get focused on policy debates.

Hogue agreed, saying he’d like members of his caucus to take up “portfolios” of policy areas where they can serve as experts for their fellow lawmakers, though time will tell how well that works in a Republican supermajority that, in many ways, is divided against itself.

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