Burgum Faces Possible Litigation

During North Dakota’s 65th Legislative Assembly, Gov. Doug Burgum partially vetoed a spending bill. However, legislative leaders believe that his partial vetoing has changed the intent of the bill and will meet Sept. 28 to decide if litigation is necessary.

The purpose of the meeting is to “meet with attorneys and discuss whether or not Legislative Management wants to go forward with a lawsuit and what the parameters of that lawsuit would be,” Sen. Ray Holmberg said to the Bismarck Tribune.

Holmberg is the chairman of North Dakota Legislative Management. Legislative Management consists of 17 legislators, and one of the group’s main duties is “providing legal advice on legislative matters to legislators and legislative committees,” according to North Dakota Legislative Branch’s website.

The Majority and Minority leaders of both houses, the Speaker of the House, and six senators and six representatives comprise the 17 legislators of Legislative Management.

The meeting will take place before legislature goes into executive session and will be closed to the public. Any voting that occurs, however, will be done publicly.

Burgum had every right to partially veto the bill, according to powers granted to the governor per North Dakota’s Constitution. The state Constitution permits the governor power to “veto a bill passed by legislative assembly” and “veto items in an appropriation bill.” It also states that “portions of the bill not vetoed become law.”

A problem arises when the portion of the law vetoed changes the original intent of the bill and indicates a potential overstepping of executive branch authority.

If a lawsuit ensues, the case will likely reach the highest court in North Dakota: the state Supreme Court.

Amid the possibility of the lawsuit, Burgum recently signed a voter ID bill. The bill allows voters to fill out a ballot without having their ID present. The ballot is then set aside until the voter returns with a valid ID, at which point the ballot is cast.

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