Bill proposed to give lawmakers more say in emergency declaration decisions


North Dakota lawmakers want to get more involved in emergency declarations decisions with a new bill.

If signed into law it would limit the governor’s emergency or disaster declarations to 30 days.
It could be extended another month, but only if the governor calls a special session of the legislature.

The legislation comes amid a slew of executive orders from the governor meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. Sen. Janne Myrdal is one of six Republican lawmakers who introduced the bill, and she says it’s not intended to be a check on the governor, but simply to encourage more collaboration in times of crisis.

“We are an elected body here in this part of the building as legislators. The executive is also elected, and we are elected to work together for the people of North Dakota. When we find ourselves in a crisis, at the length of this crisis, I think it’s really urgent that we work together,” Myrdal said. “I’m from a small rural area in northeastern North Dakota, so as an example, a bar in my little area is not the same as a bar in Fargo or Bismarck, it’s a different dynamic so maybe not the same rules that an executive order should apply.”

The bill also says if lawmakers convene for a special session virtually all actions taken will have the same effect as if the assembly were physically present at the seat of government in Bismarck.

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