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North Dakota lawmakers begin special session to fix budget invalidated by Supreme Court



Bismarck, North Dakota – In order to revisit a crucial budget law that the state Supreme Court invalidated last month, leaving a massive gap in government operations, the Republican-controlled legislature of North Dakota convened a special session on Monday.

The key budget bill was declared illegal by the high court for violating the single-subject requirement for laws, and lawmakers swiftly started hearings on 14 proposals to restore its features. Traditionally, the bill has been passed at the conclusion of the biennial session and utilized as a catch-all or cleanup item.

Republican governor and presidential candidate Doug Burgum asked the Legislature to use higher-than-anticipated surplus state tax income for other purposes. These include $50 million for infrastructure projects, $20 million to expand a grant program for tourism attractions that the governor said has attracted a lot of interest, and $91 million to extend a prior income tax decrease.

Later in the day, the state House decided to introduce a measure for the proposed tax. With roughly $300 million more in cash on hand than the Legislature had predicted at the end of its April session, Republican House Majority Leader Mike Lefor declared, “The time is now, and the time is right.”

Burgum told reporters that his proposals “are just adding appropriations to existing programs,” with “a fantastic opportunity for this Legislature to do something more than just procedural fixes.”

Additionally, he supported “low-hanging fruit items” like modifying the language surrounding a military income tax exemption and permitting non-state funding for campus upgrades to be received by Bismarck State College and the University of North Dakota.

“Here we are. Let us be astute, effective, and quick as possible,” Burgum said to the Assembly.

Burgum’s bills were among the more than two dozen that a top legislative panel rejected last week when they attempted to add more topics to the special session. The committee only moved forward with one resolution, endorsing Israel in the continuing conflict with Hamas.

Senate Majority Leader David Hogue, a Republican, stated that the Legislature seemed capable of finishing its task in three days.