Attorney General Opinion States Governor Burgum Overstepped his Authority

News breaking out of Bismarck this afternoon is Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued an opinion stating Governor Doug Burgum overstepped his authority. The opinion comes after House Majority Leader Al Carlson’s request to see if Governor Burgum’s vetoes after the 65th Legislative Session adjourned were constitutional. The opinion means action will likely be taken.

It will be interesting to see how the Legislative leadership decides to handle this news. Rep. Al Carlson and Senator Rich Wardner have already discussed calling their members back to Bismarck to attempt and override Burgum’s vetoes. They decided they’d wait for Stenehjem’s opinion. Well, now they have it. I’m sure Carlson feels vindicated.

The thing that is important to keep in mind is the Legislature only has three days remaining to meet until 2019. Carlson and Wardner publicly stated they intended to keep ten legislative days at the beginning of the session. Unfortunately, what has become routine is mismanagement and petty squabbles that drag out the session. If Carlson and Wardner decide to attempt veto overrides there will only be two days remaining.

Why only having two days left is significant is because legislation requires three days to go through the proper process. In other words, if a dramatic policy shift occurs federally – think health care reform – then the legislature cannot call themselves back to address it. It would require the Governor to call a special session.

Of course, the other option could be action through the Courts.

We will have more at ND xPlains as the story develops.