TR Library to go on Governors budget over constitutionality concerns

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BISMARCK, N.D. - After The Senate passed a bill funding the Theodore Roosevelt library, the House won't take up the bill over concerns of whether it would've been constitutional.

HB 1320 was completely amended to include the library funding. Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, said he would challenge the bill. Under North Dakota's Constitution, bill amendments have to be relevant or germane to the original intent of the bill. The ND Constitution says in Article IV, Section 13:

“No law may be enacted except by a bill passed by both houses, and no bill may be amended on its passage through either house in a manner which changes its general subject matter. No bill may embrace more than one subject, which must be expressed in its title; but a law violating this provision is invalid only to the extent the subject is not so expressed.”

When HB 1320 was introduced at the beginning of session, it related to "Red River valley water supply project contract terms and elimination of voter approval requirements."

“Regardless of how we felt about the library itself, doing things according to process is important. Following the rule of law is important,” said Becker.

Becker said he would be a no vote on the project.

In a Friday morning conference committee meeting, House members offered an amendment to the Governor's budget which mirrored the legislation that passed in the Senate.

Senator David Hogue, R-Minot, says they're going to "study the new proposal rigorously" before taking action.

“It's like a lot of issues. It takes a lot of twists and turns before we leave here so we'll look at it within the governor's budget and deal with it,” said Hogue.

He voted yes on HB 1320, saying he was comfortable with the language as it was presented to him on Wednesday.