N.D. legislative leaders will challenge Gov. Burgum's vetoes in court

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Members of the legislature will not be recalled to challenge some of Governor Doug Burgum's vetoes.

Instead, that challenge will happen in court as members of the legislative management committee voted unanimously to move forward with litigation.

The dispute comes down to the governor's use of line item vetoes to eliminate words about restrictions on appropriations.

Ranking members of state leadership won't be going the traditional route of overriding the Governor Doug Burgum's veto authority with a simple vote.

"We are going to proceed with litigation over a couple of issues that strike right at the core of the ability of the legislature to do its job," said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks.

They say he overstepped his authority as the state's chief executive.

"There's no one that can spend money, besides us. There's no one that can pass laws besides us,” House Majority Leader Al Carlson.

Members of the legislature contend that the governor is effectively creating laws with the stroke pen.

"I believe that we do need to make a statement that the governor was out of bounds on this one," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner.

"When those laws can be changed by striking selective words, I think we have legislation happening from another branch of government. And I'm having a real hard time accepting the fact that you can do that," said Carlson.

Members of the committee say this about more than a couple hundred thousand dollars.

"They are bigger issues than just whether or not he removed $300,000 from the budget etc.," said Holmberg.

The governor's office released a statement this afternoon saying it stands behind its previous statement that ,”The attorney general's opinion supports the overriding intent of these vetoes: to protect executive branch authority, preserve the separation of powers and prevent the spending of scarce state resources without the benefit of full transparency and the scrutiny of public involvement.”

Holmberg says the full committee will still need to vote on exactly what will go into the challenge before it's filed but that once that happens he and expects it to go straight to the state Supreme Court.