Just last month it was reported that the Majority Leaders in the North Dakota Legislature would not reconvene in an attempt to override some unpopular vetoes of Governor Doug Burgum. Well, it seems that may not be the case.
The Bismarck Tribune reported today that leadership are indeed still considering the option of reconvening. House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R – District 41) and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R – District 37) requested an Attorney General’s opinion last month "on whether Burgum overstepped his constitutional authority with those vetoes" by striking out portions of sentences in appropriations bills.
Aside from the opinion of the Attorney General hanging in the balance on whether he believes Burgum acted outside his constitutionally defined responsibilities,
this creates an awkward situation. Remember, our Attorney General is Wayne Stenehjem. The same Wayne Stenehjem that Doug Burgum beat by nearly 21 points a year ago tomorrow to become the Republican Party’s nominee– a political upset of historical proportions.
In addition to this, it’s also important to remember that Stenehjem – together with the Majority Leaders that requested the opinion of the Attorney General – are the same people that were categorized by Burgum as part of the "Good ‘ol Boys Club" during the primary season. A categorization that framed Burgum as the "outsider" and helped catapult him to a primary win and ultimately the Governor’s Mansion.
When it comes to Rep. Carlson and Senator Wardner, there’s little question they were unimpressed by candidate Burgum’s categorization. Carlson even made comments on the last day of the recent Legislative Session that could lead a person to believe that some hard feelings still exist. But where does Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem stand after a year has lapsed? Has he allowed bygones to be bygones? I would hope so.
The vetoes go into effect July 1st, so we should know soon whether the Majority Leaders will use their remaining three days of the session to attempt an override. Their decision may well hinge on the Attorney General’s opinion.
This is certainly an awkward situation. One that I hope will play out with professionalism and the absence of retribution from those who may well have an axe to grind.