If you wanted to be critical of North Dakota lawmakers for rubber stamping pay for colleagues who are absent during the legislative session I think that’s probably valid. Anyone who watches the floor sessions of the Legislature can see how routine the votes are to excuse absences and thus authorize pay.

But you have to remember, our Legislature operates a very tight ship already. Unlike most other states, our lawmakers are part time. Outside of lawmakers in leadership positions, they don’t have any staff or a budget for constituent services. They meet only every other year. Plus, they are tasked with handling hundreds upon hundreds of bills during a regular session that is constrained by the state constitution to no more than 80 days.

How much time do they really have to go investigating whether or not the absence of another lawmaker is justified?

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