North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says a member of the State Board of Higher Education must be a resident of the state for at least five consecutive years immediately preceding his or her appointment.
His opinion Tuesday came in response to North Dakota House Speaker Larry Klemin, R-Bismarck, who requested it earlier this summer.
Klemin said he raised the question for clarification on the five-year period. He said a previous board applicant had lived in North Dakota but also in Montana for a few years.
Stenehjem said he understands the constitutional requirement mandates five consecutive years of residency in North Dakota immediately preceding the effective date of a board member's appointment.
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"We wanted to make sure that that was the case this time because we've got another potential applicant situation coming up," said Klemin, referring to board member Dan Traynor, whom President Donald Trump has nominated for a federal judgeship.
The Board of Higher Education comprises seven members appointed to four-year terms and one student member appointed to a one-year term. All are appointed by the governor. The speaker serves on a committee that forwards finalists' names to the governor for selection.
State voters in 2020 will decide on a referred constitutional measure that would increase the board's membership from eight to 15 members and its members' terms from four to six years.