Thursday, June 22, 2017

Legislature to Challenge Gov. Burgum's Vetoes in Court

North Dakota legislators made history Wednesday after members of the Legislative Management committee voted to pursue litigation against Governor Doug Burgum. Prior to the vote, lawmakers discussed at length how they believed the Governor overstepped his authority.
"There is no one that can pass laws or spend money besides us," said House Majority Leader Al Carlson. "When those laws can be changed by striking selective words, I think we have legislation happening from another branch of government. I'm having a real hard time accepting the fact that you can do that."
Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner said, "I believe we need to make a statement that the Governor was out of bounds on this and to make sure this doesn't happen again."
The Governor has the power to veto parts of a spending bill. But Wardner and Carlson asked for an attorney general's opinion on whether or not a governor could veto parts of appropriation bills by selecting certain words that change the legislative intent.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued an opinion this week, noting that Governor Burgum on several bills made "improper" or "ineffective" vetoes.
The committee voted unanimously to proceed with challenging the vetoes in court versus calling lawmakers back into session to over-ride the vetoes.
The committee will meet at a later date and vote on exactly what issues they will pursue in the litigation. Legislative Council expects this challenge will be handled by the North Dakota State Supreme Court.