The legislative session is serious business. Most of the time. Towards the end of the 2017 session I guess things got a little…weird. “We’ve been having some pranks going on throughout the session,” a House lawmaker told me yesterday evening. Things like turning a fellow lawmaker’s phone ringer on and then calling them during the floor session. I hear a Grand Forks lawmaker got his car wrapped in plastic. I’ve also heard of mouse traps put in desk drawers.
In 2010 Rick Berg, a long time Republican state lawmaker from Fargo, ran for Congress and defeated 10-term incumbent Earl Pomeroy ending a decades-long stranglehold Democrats had on North Dakota’s federal delegation. But in 2012 Berg opted to leave his House seat behind and run for the Senate seat which was being vacated at that time by incumbent Democrat Kent Conrad. Berg’s opponent was current Senator Heidi Heitkamp who won that race after very ugly, very bitter campaign.
The legislative session in Bismarck finally ended today with lawmakers voting to adjourn sine die this evening. Here’s video: #SineDie #NDLeg pic.twitter.com/EmsntIRh9p
Drew Wrigley served as North Dakota’s U.S. Attorney under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. He stepped down from that appointment during the Obama administration – though many at the time, including the Fargo Forum in a glowing editorial, urged President Obama to keep him on the job – and served as Lt. Governor under the Dalrymple administration from 2010 through last year.
James Patrick Whalen, a Grand Forks teacher found guilty of carrying on a sexual relationship with a teenage student, was sentenced recently. Something his attorney said during sentencing has people outraged.
Last year during his campaign Governor Doug Burgum promised , by signing a pledge, that he would “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes or user fees.” “It is important that voters know unequivocally that as governor I will never raise taxes,” Burgum said in a press statement following the signing of a second pledge .
The only time when it's a good idea to speak in absolutes is when you're warning people to never, ever speak in absolutes. "Never say never," as the saying goes. Gov. Doug Burgum should have heeded that advice. "It is important that voters know unequivocally that as governor I will never raise taxes," Burgum said in a press release sent out during his campaign last year upon signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge offered by Americans for Tax Reform.
“The Dollar Doug idea sure got stomped in the House,” a legislative observer texted me yesterday evening. The “Dollar Doug” thing is what some are calling the amendment to HB1001 which would reduce Governor Doug Burgum’s salary to just $1 per year, formulated in such a way so that whoever might take over after Burgum (be it at the end of his term or through some other circumstance) reverts to the old salary. It did, indeed, get stomped on in the House with members voting 11-79 to reject the bill as it emerged from conference committee.
“When I go to Washington, I’m not going to be for any special interest; I’ll be for the interests of North Dakota,” Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp said in 2013 shortly after winning election to her first term in office.
The big question heading into this week of the legislative session is this: “When are they going to finish?” Today is legislative day 74. The goal, when the session started, is that the lawmakers would wrap up their businesses on day 70 last week leaving 10 of the constitutionally-capped 80 days in case they need to come back into session to make adjustments. “Yeah, I wouldn’t hold my breath,” state Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) told me during our interview on Friday (audio below) when I asked him about being done on Tuesday.