North Dakota is likely just weeks away from a special legislative session. The necessary gathering of lawmakers will primarily focus on the approval of new district lines following the census. With the four-day limit, will they stay focused on the task at hand, or will distractions creep into the chambers? The answer will rest in the majority’s leadership.
Can Chet Pollert keep the House in order? Will Rich Wardner stop the Senate from wandering off task?
We’ve seen hints pop up in recent reports that items beyond redistricting and allocation of federal covid-relief dollars from the Biden administration may be introduced. For example, a ban on employer vaccine mandates is being pondered by lawmakers who failed to pass the ban in the regular session. Expect a bill draft.
More recently, following the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” decision on a Texas abortion case, ND Senator Janne Myrdal assumed they’d copy and paste the Texas language into North Dakota’s Century Code. It is unclear if that will be introduced in a special session or be put off until 2023. However, leadership should acknowledge for some lawmakers like Myrdal this has been their sole goal and be prepared for the possibility it is introduced in a limited session.
There have been scenes playing out across the country since the end of the regular session that will likely make some of these lawmakers feel even more emboldened to advanced their social agendas. They believe momentum is on their side. If leadership isn’t prepared to handle it, the focus of a special session could quickly get away from them.