Imagine for a moment that a manager changes an employee’s work schedule. It’s happened to many of us. Instead of a workweek that runs, say, Monday through Friday, it gets switched to include a weekend day. Certainly, the employee will have concerns and, if given the choice, the schedule would remain the same.
But if it’s good for the company, isn’t it still right to make the change?
In a way, the state of North Dakota is a company – one that’s been working on a schedule created decades ago when transportation and communications were markedly slower than today.
And when it was first decided the Legislature would meet every two years instead of annually, lawmakers could never have foreseen how the future would change not only their ability to meet, but also the volatility that can quickly shake state government.
Meanwhile, the North Dakota Legislature remains one of just four that meets every other year.
So, should North Dakota finally ease its stubborn grip on the past and change to annual sessions? Unequivocally, yes.
With one member absent during Friday’s vote, SB 2218 came to a tie, with 23 votes on each side. Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford broke the tie, giving the proposal approval in the Senate and, assumedly, a vote in the House of Representatives. On Monday, it was reconsidered and approved again, by 28-19 vote.
It’s a step toward the inevitable, even if it doesn’t pass this year. These talks often coincide with budgetary concerns, and especially in times of fiscal uncertainty. But this conversation must happen, since North Dakota’s finances rely heavily on oil and farm products. An economy structured around commodities sometimes cannot wait a year or two for course corrections. Other emergencies – such as the coronavirus pandemic – add to the urgency.
Alas, SB 2218’s future is still very much in doubt. And because the employees are voting to add to their own work schedule, we'll believe it when we see it.
“Do you want a citizen legislature or do you want to go to more of a full-time legislature, like Minnesota has?” he politely responded.
Pollert is being too broad with that response. South Dakota has citizen legislators who meet annually, and are nothing like full-time legislators. Further, it’s questionable whether Minnesota’s lawmakers are indeed full-time; even if they are, Minnesota is not a comparable state in terms of politics, economy or population.
According to a news report filed by the North Dakota Newspaper Association, some lawmakers have said “I like my winter off.”
Then take winters off, permanently.
Trust us: Candidates will come forth who have no problem whatsoever representing the state, and running the public’s massive company, in annual sessions.