2011 Legislature wraps upBISMARCK — The North Dakota Legislature finished its work early Thursday evening after passing hundreds of new laws and approving $4 billion in general fund spending over the next two years.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Legislature finished its work early Thursday evening after passing hundreds of new laws and approving $4 billion in general fund spending over the next two years.
The last day wasn’t without hiccups, as legislators disagreed over the Game and Fish and State Water Commission budgets.
But senators celebrated with ice cream bars when it became evident Thursday afternoon that Day 78 would be the final day. Legislators cleaned out their desks, packed boxes, shook hands and said their goodbyes as the clock ticked to the final hours of the 2011 session.
The Senate wrapped up its last bill a few minutes after 5 p.m. The House followed soon after.
Sen. Dave Nething, R-Jamestown, known as the dean of the Senate, gave an emotional speech in the last hours of the session and received a standing ovation.
He read from a speech he gave at the end of the 1979 session, saying he’s attempted to cast his vote with four considerations: individual conscience, what is best for North Dakota, the effect on his district and political considerations of his party.
“I know many of you in this body have also set your own criteria and hopefully you have structured your considerations similar to those I have mentioned,” Nething said.
By keeping in mind the people they represent, “we will always preserve the integrity” of the legislative body, he said. Nething has been a senator since 1966. He said personal health and family circumstances will determine if he runs again for office.
The final bill of the session was the budget for the Office of Management and Budget.
The ending fund balance projected for the 2011-13 biennium is $51 million, said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks. There is also estimated to be $386 million in the budget stabilization fund and $700,000 in a new strategic investment and improvements fund.
The Legislature also set aside nearly $342 million to use for property tax relief during the 2013-15 biennium. The Legacy Fund is expected to have more than $600 million in the bank by the end of 2011-13, although legislators are not able to spend any of that money until 2017.
For more on the wrap-up of the 2011 Legislature, see Sunday’s newspaper.
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for
Forum Communications Co.