BISMARCK, N.D. - It might be Tuesday, or maybe next Thursday.
To be fair, though, no one really knows for sure when North Dakota’s Capitol will empty out, and legislators will scatter to the four corners.
What they do know is that there’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done before the gavels bang sine die on the 63rd session of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.
“In a perfect world, it would be late Tuesday,” said House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo.
His crystal ball, though, tells him Wednesday is more likely.
Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson isn’t quite so optimistic.
“We’re going to work hard to be done by Wednesday,” Wardner said, “but I’m guessing it’ll probably be Thursday.”
A half-dozen members of the Capitol press corps have made their guesses, ranging from sometime Tuesday to late Friday.
Everywhere you go at the Capitol, someone is talking about when it’ll all be over.
They’re also talking about more than $200 million in personal and corporate income tax cuts, more than $1 billion in infrastructure spending, property tax reform and K-12 education funding, all issues that must be resolved before final adjournment.
The Constitution gives the Legislature 80 days every two years to complete its work.
Thursday is day 74. Unless the House and Senate gavel in Saturday, May 3 will be the 80th day.
The floor leaders say a Saturday session is possible this week, but more likely that day will be reserved for conference committee work so legislators will have a full slate of business to conduct when they return Monday.
The problem isn’t so much reaching agreement on everything, Carlson said, but getting all the legalese into place once they do.
“When the last bill comes out of conference committee, it will be a good two days before everything is ready,” Carlson said.
That leaves most everyone, from committee clerks to lobbyists, to staff in state offices to legislators themselves, wondering when it all will come to an end.
Despite the anticipation, Carlson said the end date isn’t what’s important.
“The key is, when we’re done, that we did good work, that we made good public policy with fiscal responsibility,” he said.
That, he assures, will happen.