BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — We’re now on day two of the special legislative session in Bismarck and so far, lawmakers say they’ve avoided any shouting matches — but they also note that there’s still plenty of work to be done before they go home.
“I liken it to being in the National Guard,” said Senate majority leader David Hogue. “You always have to be ready. You always have to be able to leave your job and your family, whether you’re on vacation or focusing on something else. That is the vocation of a citizen legislature.”
“I am a realtor,” stated Senate Secretary Shanda Morgan, “and I also own a boutique, Branded Envy. I wear several different hats, so I have quite a few things going on, and I also have four children.”
Although some of these lawmakers are retired and some are still working full time, this week, their chief priority is discussing and voting on 14 bills marked ‘urgent’ by Governor Burgum.
“I feel like things are going pretty copacetically,” Morgan noted. “Everything is pretty calm so far.”
“Most of this here, is pretty black and white and simple,” added District 31 Representative Dawson Holle. “There aren’t many contentious issues that we’ll have to vote on.”
On Tuesday morning alone, the senate alone passed seven bills through — six of which were done via unanimous votes.
Hogue says one aspect that makes this week simpler is that lawmakers have already had lengthy discussions and voted on those bills back in April, but he admits that one — a proposal to remove income tax for several North Dakotans on top of what was passed in April — is still creating tension.
“Our economy’s doing very well, our revenues are doing well, and so there’s a thought that maybe we should provide even more tax relief,” Hogue stated. “That’s contentious because some people feel that we should just come in and do what we’re supposed to be doing, and there are others that say, ‘no, we have the resources, let’s provide additional tax relief.'”
Despite the contention, the bill to remove income tax passed in the House. Among other controversial bills was one to give a $125-million grant to a business that’s looking to build a fertilizer plant here in North Dakota, which passed 60-30 in the house on Tuesday.
While Governor Burgum’s deadline is on Friday, lawmakers predict that the special session will be wrapping up early. Currently, the session is expected to be finished on Wednesday.