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Legislative Council leaders want to increase staffing levels



Bismarck, North Dakota – Legislative leaders in North Dakota claim that the Legislative Council’s workload has increased as a result of the new term limitations for lawmakers.

That is the lawmaker’s research, legal, and bill-drafting organization.

“As we transition into a term-limit era, in which legislators will serve a maximum of eight years, we’re going to have to increasingly rely on Legislative Council to provide policy guidance and communications,” Republican Senate Majority Leader David Hogue from Minot said.

Republican House Majority Leader Mike Lefor of Dickinson repeated that statement.

“In light of term limits, and the increased need for education, that’s a driver for us looking at how we can expand the reach, in terms of educating new legislators,” Lefor said.

At the moment, the council employs 34 people.

“We rank the lowest in the country, in terms of staff per legislator,” Hogue said. “Not only do we have legislators that will be serving for a short period, but they’re part-timers as well.”

Hogue stated that it is difficult to establish policy competence in those situations. He stated that hiring additional policy experts is a major need.

“That is, people devoted to the task of looking at what other states are doing, and telling us whether that’s good policy or bad policy,” Hogue said. “Right now, we don’t have that organically within the Legislative Council.”

Lefor stated that lawyers and fiscal experts are also required.

“The Council tells me they have about 1200 bill drafts, as well as three times that amount in amendments,” Lefor said.

The Committee recommended creating a five-year staffing plan for the Council.