ND lawmakers want special session Nov. 7

Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Majority leaders in North Dakota's Legislature said Tuesday they expect fellow Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple will agree with their proposal to have the fall special session begin Nov. 7.

The session, which is expected to last one week, was originally planned to give lawmakers time to draw new legislative districts and review health care legislation.

Legislators are also likely to review repair costs for state and local public works to remedy damage caused by North Dakota's spring and summer flooding, said Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, the House majority leader.

"If Minot goes under, there's no question that the money we've set aside will not be enough," Carlson said.

Minot city leaders and state officials fear the rising Souris River will swamp parts of Minot this weekend. Most of North Dakota, including the Red River Valley, Devils Lake and cities adjoining the Missouri River, has suffered from flooding problems this spring and summer.

On Tuesday, the Legislature's interim Budget Section, which is made up of members of the appropriations committees in the North Dakota House and Senate, agreed to give the North Dakota National Guard authority to spend up to $23.5 million for disaster aid. The move used up money that the 2011 Legislature set aside to cover disaster expenses.

The money will be used for the state and local share of repair costs. Lawmakers believe the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover at least 75 percent, and perhaps as much as 90 percent, of the expense of repairing flood-damaged public facilities.

A spokesman for Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Tuesday the governor had not decided when to call the special session. Carlson said he believed Dalrymple would accede to a joint recommendation from him and the Senate's Republican majority leader, Bob Stenehjem, of Bismarck.

"I would think we're going to look, probably, at something in November" relating to paying for flood damage to public works, Stenehjem said. "We'll also look at our revenues and see where we are ... We're well aware of the problem that's happening out here in the state of North Dakota that relates to flooding."

Stenehjem said some lawmakers have advocated holding a special session more quickly. He said he believed it was important to wait until the extent of the financial impact of the flood damage becomes clearer.

"Nobody even knows what the bills are yet. Nobody even knows what the impact of this is," Stenehjem said. "There's a lot of water that has to go under the bridge, so to speak, before we even have a clue of what we're going to do."

Nov. 7 is a Monday. It's the first Monday after the opening of the deer gun season on Friday, Nov. 4. Veterans Day, which is a state and federal holiday, falls on Friday, Nov. 11.

The North Dakota Constitution limits regular sessions of the Legislature to 80 days every two years. However, a special session called by the governor has no similar restriction and may last indefinitely.