There Is a Brewing Fight Over Masking at the Next Legislative Session


MINOT, N.D. — It’s Election Day, but I’m not sure there’s a lot left to be said about the election right now.

So, until the vote counts give us something to talk about, let’s consider a bizarre political fight that has the potential to blow up after the election.

The new session of the Legislature begins in January, and before that, in December, lawmakers will meet “for organizational and orientation purposes” as prescribed by the state constitution. Part of the organization relates to lawmakers making new rules for how their session will be carried out.

It’s typically pretty boring stuff and flies under the general public’s radar, but the rules passed are serious business. Lawmakers have a dress code, for instance, that requires people on the floors of the chambers to be dressed up.

There aren’t exceptions.

During the 2017 session, Gov. Doug Burgum was kicked off the state Senate floor for wearing jeans.

For the 2020 session, the rules-making process will be quite a bit more high-profile than usual because that process is where the Legislature’s precautions for the COVID-19 pandemic will be put in place.

Things we will likely see is the availability of a system for remote participation so that not all lawmakers have to be in the chambers or committee rooms.

And, of course, there will also probably be a mask mandate, which just makes sense given how many elderly and at-risk individuals serve in the Legislature.

That debate could turn into a bit of a donnybrook.

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