Lawmakers at the State Capitol for the 17th special session

Published: Oct. 23, 2023 at 7:24 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - This is the seventeenth time the N.D. legislature has met for a special session in state history.

Documents detail the 1919 memorable special session that dealt with women’s suffrage.

“Women of privilege in North Dakota had the ability to vote for presidential office. That had passed in 1917. So this was really just kind of finalizing. Really what they were looking at is endorsing the federal bill,” said Sarah Walker, the head of reference services at the ND State Archives.

That happened in the third special session ever held. The session starting this week is the 17th.

“Historically, most of the special sessions we’ve had in recent times have related to redistricting. Every 10 years we redistrict the Legislative Assembly, and the special session is generally held in November of each year, ending in one to redistrict,” John Bjornson, North Dakota Legislative Council.

The budget covers 75 days of sessions, 75 days which were used earlier this year. So where does the money come from for this week?

“The special session will be funded out of the current biennium’s budget. We budget for 75 legislative days for the regular session, so these days would be removed from the 75 days, which is why there is some discussion about potentially adding funding to cover these extra days,” said Bjornson.

He says it costs around $65,000 a day to run a special session including travel, lodging, their per diem and a minimal staff of temporary employees.

“If there’s additional funding approved, it will be part of an amendment to one of the bills under consideration now. So it’d be within the next three or four days. We would hope that everything goes smoothly, this could be done in three days, four days or five days at the most,” said Bjornson.

Per the state constitution, the governor has the power to call a special session no matter how many days are used.

The last special session was in November 2021, it lasted five days.