House members approved the bill 84-8 on Wednesday.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's House has endorsed a measure that would prevent filling any vacant state government jobs until the end of April.

House Majority Leader Al Carlson, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner and their fellow GOP leaders of the appropriations committees are pushing the legislation amid a downturn in oil and agriculture prices.

House members approved the bill 84-8 on Wednesday.

State officials say there are more than 600 state openings at present.

The legislation allows the governor to fill a vacant position if it's deemed essential to "to protecting the life and safety" of citizens.