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North Dakota legislative committees likely won't meet again until June

North Dakota legislative committees likely won't meet again until June

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North Dakota state Capitol

The North Dakota state Capitol in Bismarck is offset by flowers in full bloom in June 2018.

Interim committees of North Dakota's Legislature probably won't meet again until June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Legislative Management, a powerful committee of state lawmakers that guides work between sessions, met Thursday. The group appeared to reach a consensus on interim committees not holding meetings until June. If any committees must meet, they could do so by telecommunications. The committee didn't hold a vote.

The Legislature has 29 interim committees, which are carrying out more than 40 studies and various duties before the 2021 legislative session begins.

Some meetings have already been canceled due to the virus outbreak, though three groups of lawmakers met this week in the Senate chamber to allow for livestreaming for the public and social distancing for lawmakers in attendance as they carried out some essential business.

Ten members of Legislative Management were present Thursday via telephone; five were in the room.

North Dakota legislative leaders to review livestreaming before potentially expanding

House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, who chairs the group, said interim committee chairmen "have to take a look" at whether to hold meetings.

"Folks, if you don't think you can hold your committee meeting, I understand that, and so the rightful thing to do is to cancel," Pollert told the committee.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said it would be "a rule of thumb" not to meet in April and May and reassess afterward. Interim committees have until the fall to wrap up their work before presenting reports in November.

House and Senate majority and minority leaders met this week with the governor's office and state health officials to discuss the pandemic, Pollert said.

He was coordinating with the governor's office Thursday for legislative leaders to receive regular updates and for an employee of Legislative Council to act as a liaison for updates to state lawmakers, too.

Updates on the coronavirus pandemic in North Dakota are available at health.nd.gov/diseases-conditions/coronavirus.

Legislative Management also set Dec. 1-3 as the dates for the 2021 Legislature's organizational session, which is when new lawmakers will take office.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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