North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called a special session Tuesday of the Republican-controlled Legislature to address a major budget bill struck down by the state Supreme Court last month, leaving a giant hole in state government operations lawmakers are rushing to fill.
The special session will convene Monday. Burgum’s executive order for the session comes after the court ruled last week that it won’t delay its surprising Sept. 28 decision that invalidated the funding bill for the state Office of Management and Budget.
The bill, usually the last one passed in the biennial session, is traditionally used as a catchall or cleanup bill. The court said the bill is unconstitutional because it violates the state Constitution’s single-subject requirement for bills.
Republican Senate Majority Leader David Hogue has said the Legislature would convene for a three- to five-day session. A top panel of lawmakers was meeting Tuesday to address plans for the session, including a list of 14 bill drafts to resurrect the voided bill’s provisions.
The Legislature could have called itself back into session using the five days remaining from its 80-day limit every two years for session. Burgum’s office said legislative leaders asked him Friday to convene a special session, noting that “all legislation enacted during a special session called by the governor becomes effective on the date specified in the act.” Otherwise, any bill passed in a reconvened session would not take effect for 90 days unless two-thirds of the Legislature approves an emergency clause to give the bill immediate effect when signed by the governor.
Burgum in a statement said he expects the situation can be fixed before Nov. 1. The special session could pull the governor, who is running for president, off his campaign trail to focus on the legislation.
The bill contained about $322 million for the state’s 2023-25 budget cycle.
The Supreme Court ruled on the bill because of a lawsuit brought by the board that oversees the state’s government retirement plans. The board argued it is unconstitutional for state lawmakers to sit on the board, and targeted a section of the bill that increased legislative membership from two to four.
An all-Republican House-Senate panel negotiated the final version of the bill, which passed before 3 a.m. on a weekend, ending the session after four months.