North Dakota's Senate voted Thursday to override Gov. Doug Burgum's veto of a bill on an area of legislative authority tied to an inter-branch lawsuit, setting up a House vote for Friday.
Senators voted 47-0 to override the veto on Senate Bill 2055, then "immediately messaged" the bill to the House. House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, said he expects a House override vote on Friday. The House had previously passed the bill 91-1. At least a two-thirds vote is needed to override the veto.
Republican majority leaders brought the bill to outline or clarify the authority of the Budget Section, a group of 42 House and Senate lawmakers who meet between sessions to approve or reject certain expenditures.
The North Dakota Supreme Court settled the lawsuit between the Legislature and Burgum in 2018, ruling that some of Burgum’s disputed partial vetoes in spending bills in 2017 were ineffective, while the Budget Section “unconstitutionally encroached” upon executive authority in provisions of two of the bills.
Burgum vetoed the bill, calling it "fundamentally flawed because it disregards the Supreme Court’s ruling and attempts to enshrine in state law the Budget Section’s unconstitutional practice of acting as a mini-Legislature."
Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot, carried the bill for its override vote, extolling the bill as "clean-cut policy" to "reconcile" the Supreme Court's ruling.
"I would say ... Senate Bill 2055 was a good bill. It was a clean bill. A clean-cut policy bill," Hogue said. "The kind of bill that you could take home to your mother and introduce."
The bill essentially sets membership of the Budget Section and new criteria to consider for approving state agencies' requests in the interim between sessions, such as a funding request's purpose, time frame and alignment with legislative intent and state priorities.
Legislative leaders have said the Budget Section is needed to avoid calling special sessions to approve agencies' requests, such as to receive federal funding between sessions.
"I would say ... what the fundamental disagreement is with the governor's veto is that the governor does not attack the guidelines that are in Senate Bill 2055," Hogue said. "The governor seems to argue that there is this blanket ban on the legislative assembly delegating to the Budget Section, and the Supreme Court did not say that."
The House convenes 8 a.m. Friday for its floor session.