Last week we broke the news that there were constitutional issues with House Bill 1320. This, of course, was the bill that was completely hijacked in an effort to push funding for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum through. HB 1320 originally had nothing to do with the library. In fact, it was a bill “relating to [the] Red River valley water supply project”.
Because of issues relating to “germaneness” of the legislation, it was undoubtedly unconstitutional. In the days following the article, legislators came to the realization this was indeed true. And rather than move forward with it, they decided to switch gears and tuck the library into the governor’s budget on Senate Bill 2001 instead. Such a move wasn’t surprising. Everyone knew they’d find a way to get it done.
The Senate passed SB 2001 yesterday on a vote of 34-13. Only Senator Joan Heckaman (D – District 23) stood to oppose the bill on the Senate floor. She rightfully pointed out that private dollars should be enough to fund it. The fact that Heckaman — a Democrat — stood to say such a thing while the super-majority of her Republican colleagues pushed the bill through should be an embarrassment to them.
After a long debate in the House today, they followed suit and approved SB 2001 by a vote of 76-16. Not only does this pass the bill, but the Emergency Clause carried with it— meaning the bill will go into effect as soon as Governor Burgum signs it.
No amount of logic or principle was going to stop the 2019 North Dakota Legislature and Governor Doug Burgum from getting the funding for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum. Excellent arguments — like those from Rep. Dan Johnston (R – District 24) — simply didn’t matter.
What message does it send when this same legislature has shot down proposal after proposal to save the taxpayers of North Dakota money, while committing $50 million towards a library that honors a man who wasn’t a great president? I’d suggest not a very good one.
Once again, the taxpayers of North Dakota are the losers. But hey, at least Governor Burgum gets his library.
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