ND Legislative Session Wraps Up

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When lawmakers gaveled in on Tuesday they had hoped to have their work done that evening. But, by late afternoon it was clear the house and senate was at a standstill.

For a while the House refused to send over a bill dealing with the budget for the Retirement and Investment Office and Public Employee Retirement System because of a disagreement on a couple sections that pertained to the buyout by Sanford to provide health insurance coverage to state employees.

"The main concern from the senate side was there was a lot of things in there that we felt affected the insurance program, the health insurance, that would cause the state to be in a possible litigation situation," said Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson.

The senate appointed conferees to meet with members of the house to try and come to some agreement. But no one from the house showed up.

"It was never on the computer. It was never set up and was never brought to the house. It was never sent back to us so we could do that. And quite honestly we said deal with the issue you have over there and we'll get it done," said Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo.

In the end both majority leaders agreed they needed time to cool off and decided to adjourn sine die. Leaving the bill in limbo.

"We need more time to kind of come down from this session. Very emotional. But I want to point out, as far as the session it was a very productive session. It's too bad we had to end with this issue being in a disagreement," said Wardner

But eventually the two chambers WILL have to come to some sort of an agreement if they want to pass the bill, which also provides funding to the agency.

"I'm not sure what's going to break the impasse but what I do know is that this is certainly no way to run a legislature," said Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks.

The majority leader in the house says this issue will be discussed during the interim.

The current PERS budget runs through June 30. The bill left undecided includes more than $14 million to fund the office for the next two years.

If lawmakers wish to do that, they will need to go into a special session before then.

The governor says he doesn't know when that will happen yet.