Associated Press, Published April 28 2013
North Dakota Legislature heads toward home stretchBISMARCK — North Dakota's Legislature is headed down the session's home stretch, but first must find consensus on a host of spending plans and other last-minute measures before the state constitution's 80-day limit is imposed.
Monday is Day 76.
Some 50 bills remained at midday Friday, about 90 less than a week ago. That compares with about 25 bills that were still undone during the same period in the 2011 session.
Gov. Jack had signed more than 390 bills into law as of Friday. Lawmakers began the session with 842 bills.
North Dakota's Legislature ended the longest session in modern state history in 2009 when lawmakers logged 79 days.
Two years ago, the session lasted 78 days.
The 1975 Legislature finished its work in 53 days, the shortest session in modern history. Lawmakers in 1975 plowed through 1,309 bills and resolutions, or more than 300 more than this session.
Jim Smith, director of the Legislative Council, said lawmakers in recent years have dealt with more complex issues and much more money.
The last day of the session is commonly called Sine Die, which means adjourning without setting another meeting.
The halls of the Capitol are full of predictions when the session might end. Friendly wagers also are being taken, even in the press office.
Loretta Boehn is working her 21st Legislative session at the state Capitol. Bane has been a cashier at the cafe in the Capitol building for 43 years and has never seen the Legislature reach the 80-day maximum set by the state constitution.
Boehn is betting on Wednesday, two days before the deadline.
“They always seem to find a way to get out early,” she said.
DRUNKEN DRIVING LAWS
Gov. Dalrymple says he will sign legislation Monday aimed at strengthening penalties for drunken driving in North Dakota.
The Legislature last week endorsed the bill that increases fines and other penalties. The new law will require jail time or community service work for first-time DUI offenders who have a blood alcohol content of 0.16 percent. That's twice the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent.
The bill also would require mandatory participation in the so-called 24/7 sobriety program for repeat offenders.
A second DUI arrest also would require a minimum sentence of 10 days in jail.
Dalrymple says he will be joined at the bill signing by the bill's sponsor's Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and members of the Deutscher and Mickelson families, whose loved ones, Aaron, Allison and Brielle Deutscher, were killed in an alcohol-related crash last year.