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Amy Dalrymple, Published March 21 2009

Legislators fall victim to Big Dance fever

BISMARCK – Legislators multitasked Friday, arranging the floor session schedule so they could catch the North Dakota State Bison play in their first NCAA tournament.

The House recessed from a little after 1 to 1:30 p.m. as the game with Kansas wrapped up.

Nearly every laptop was tuned to the game, with some observers crowding behind legislators’ desks.

“We’ll still get our work done, we’ll just have to stay a little longer,” said House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo who asked for the recess.

Senators watched the game before the floor session started at 12:30 p.m., and then were able to watch the rest after a short session.

Sen. Tony Grindberg of Fargo said it’s a good thing there were no controversial bills on the calendar so he could focus half of his attention on the game.

“What an opportunity and a moment in history for the state,” Grindberg said.

Students visiting the Capitol on field trips got to watch the game along with legislators.

Greysen Ulmer, a junior at Litchville-Marion High School, called down from the House balcony to ask legislators to put the game on full screen.

“It’s kind of ridiculous that our tax dollars go to these guys, and they’re sitting here watching the game,” Ulmer said.

When the House reconvened, Speaker of the House David Monson told guests he hoped they hadn’t gotten tired of waiting and left.

“Those of us who are Sioux fans have to demand equal treatment now,” Monson said.