The final day of the 67th legislative session keeps getting pushed further out and closer to the 80-day constitutional limit. Early plans by Republican leadership to save ten days are out of reach. Now, they hope to maintain half of those days. This is the session that lost its way because of chaos and confusion.
The days keep ticking away because of undisciplined leadership and a group of legislators who don’t care about proper process. On day 69 reports have come from Bismarck about confusion from lawmakers after bills have been stripped from their original intent and filled with pipe dreams. Proposals that avoided public hearings have been passed before the House in last-ditch efforts to get ideological desires.
At least two examples have surfaced from the House on the same day. The first is SB 2139. The original bill was focused on neighborhood zones and incentives. It passed the Senate on February 22. Then, on April 20th, the House Finance and Tax Committee Chaired by Montpelier Republican Craig Headland amended the bill to be a corporate and individual tax cut. The House passed that bill on the same day according to the journal. Headland knows the process. This action has been his personal ambition for sessions. He routinely chooses to act this way to avoid public scrutiny. It may prolong the session because of his deceptive planning. The conference committee must now take up an entirely new proposal with just says left unless they simply accept Headland’s unvetted idea.
Another last-minute bill passed the House amongst chaos and confusion in the chamber. SB 2124 passed the Senate on February 4th and was related to the emergency authority of the Governor and Health Officer’s powers. Again on April 20th, the House amended the bill and decided to add some unrelated wish list items. Language about “vaccine passports” and “unaccompanied undocumented children” was created for the newly written bill. Much of what was added doesn’t seem germane to the original intent of the Senate bill. Again, the conference committee will be dealing with items that never held a hearing nor had public input.
NoDak Republican House members are acting like the student who put off all their homework and studies until the week it all came due. Well, it is finals week for the session. To the eyes of many North Dakotans, they won’t be getting a passing grade. What an embarrassing session.