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North Dakota governor vetoes bill allowing December legislative votes

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Gov. Doug Burgum delivered his budget proposal to a joint session of the 67th Legislative Assembly on Dec. 3, 2020, in the state Capitol in Bismarck.

Gov. Doug Burgum has issued his first veto of the 2021 Legislature.

The second-term Republican on Wednesday vetoed House Bill 1378, brought by Rep. Andrew Marschall, R-Fargo. The bill allows the Legislature to convene in December of even-numbered years to consider and vote on legislation. That's the time when the Legislature holds its organizational session to prepare for the regular session beginning the next month.

The House passed the bill 57-36; the Senate 41-6. 

In a veto message to Speaker Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, the governor said introducing and voting on bills and resolutions is beyond the scope of the December organizational session.

The bill "could have serious consequences," he said, such as an outgoing governor acting on legislation days before leaving office and before his or her successor could consider the legislation upon taking office Dec. 15.

"Legislation worth considering in December should still be worth considering in January," Burgum said. "The existing process for convening a new legislative assembly as outlined in the North Dakota Constitution has served this state and its citizens well for decades and should remain intact."

The House and Senate can override the governor's veto with a two-thirds vote of each chamber. 

Both Republican majority leaders opposed the bill. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said he's not interested in voting to override the veto.

House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, said his caucus will discuss a potential override vote.

Burgum vetoed two bills in entirety and partially vetoed another bill in the 2019 Legislature, which overrode one of those vetoes. 

Reach Jack Dura at 701-223-8482 or


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