HOW to make the sausage: GNDC's primer on the Reconvened Session
If you've walked the Capitol halls, you've probably heard an expression related to "making sausage." It boils down and equates to writing and working through the drafting of legislation considering the multiple parts, pieces, and end results. GNDC is watching this "sausage-making" process.
So, what is the Legislature doing? Is this a special session or is this a reconvened session, does this label even matter? Let’s break it down a bit on what it is and what it means.
Technically this is a Reconvened Session because the legislature is calling themselves back to continue and finalize the work from earlier this year. It would be a Special Session if Governor Burgum were to request their work/meeting. Regardless of what it’s called, the legislature is coming back to Bismarck on November 8th with a slated agenda of topics that require action.
There are three main items on the agenda: American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, redistricting, and topics that will be considered by the Delayed Bills Committee and acted on by the joint Senate and House Technical Corrections Committee. These are essential items that impact the future of our state, but here’s the rub – the legislators have a deadline. There are 4 remaining days of their 80 allotted days per biennium. In reality, the Reconvened Session will extend 2 to 3 weeks because of the magnitude of the agenda. So how will this work? Interpretation of the law is that their days are only used when the legislature gavels in – so a lot will be done outside of the chambers and in committee rooms.
ARPA FUNDS: North Dakota is receiving over $1 billion in ARPA funds that need to be obligated by December 31, 2024, and spent by December 31, 2026. Agencies and legislators submitted 156 proposals totaling over $9 billion in requests. As pre-work, both the Senate and House Appropriations committees are meeting to review each proposal. These appropriations committees have been charged with crafting bills for allocating these funds that will be considered during the Reconvened Session. This is out-of-the-ordinary for appropriations committees because they are generally reviewing budget bills versus drafting them.
REDISTRICTING: With the new census results, redistricting is a priority for this Reconvened Session. The biggest topic of discussion related to redistricting is the two house sub-districts for the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain Reservations.
Some other items of interest to keep in mind.
- Committee reports for redistricting and appropriations will need to be approved by legislative management before they can be considered during the reconvened session. Legislative management meets on November 1.
- The Governor released his Accelerate ND proposal including appropriating the 2019-2021 biennium budget surplus. Some believe there isn’t a need to allocate these funds before the 2023 session.
- At the end of the day, bills that are passed in both chambers from this session will need to be signed by the Governor, providing potential for a veto opportunity.