BISMARCK, N.D. - Now that governor Doug Burgum has signed all the bill sent to him, the 2019 session is over and legislators can look back on what they accomplished during the legislative session.
We sat down with Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, and House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, right before they left Bismarck to get their takes on the session.
Both leaders felt good about the session, working with both chambers and both parties. The legislature made changes to K12 funding, flood protection money for Fargo and Minot, set aside money for the Theodore Roosevelt presidential library, started IT unification, infrastructure funding for non-oil counties and did an overhaul of social services that will lower property taxes, among other things.
“We certainly got to invest in programs that we haven't been able to over the last two biennia and because of that, I think North Dakota is going to be stronger, our economy is growing, our forecast looks good,” said Boschee.
But both leaders said we didn’t get everything we needed.
Wardner says the legislature missed chances to address state highway funding, going further for K12 funding, and expanding research opportunities.
“We need to do more research in the state of North Dakota. If we want this state to grow and be a place where people want to come and live, we've got to have some research in energy, agriculture and we need to promote that research,” said Wardner.
Boschee said lawmakers need to make more policy for employees for higher wages, child care, protections against discrimination.
Looking forward to next session, Boschee says his intentions now are to run for the legislature again in Fargo district 44. Wardner said in our interview the 2021 session will be his swan song.
“It’s been a good run,” Wardner started. “At this time, I think I’ve done all the things I want to do and have had the opportunity to. I’m very blessed to be the leader of the North Dakota senate.”