North Dakota high court rules that one of governor's challenged vetoes was 'valid and effective'

By Mary Ann Magnell | Aug 10, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline) – The North Dakota Supreme Court found that one of Gov. Doug Burgum’s vetoes challenged by the Legislative Assembly was “valid and effective” on July 30.

Of the five vetoes that were constitutionally challenged by the Assembly, Justices Jerod E. Tufte and Jon J. Jensen wrote the opinion that found that the Workplace Safety Veto was valid was “within the governor’s item veto authority.” 

Additionally, the court said that the Credit Hour Veto was ineffective and the bill became law “with Section 39 unmodified by the attempted veto.” 

Further, the remaining three vetoes, the Any Portion Veto, Water Commission Veto and the IT Project Veto, according to the Supreme Court, were all ineffective and caused the bills to have been enacted in their entirety. 

This finding was in agreement with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s conclusion prior to the Assembly’s filing, which “concluded three of the partial vetoes were ineffective because they exceeded the governor’s constitutional authority by attempting to veto a condition on an appropriation without vetoing the appropriation itself.”

The governor agreed with the attorney general’s decision and had stated that “no actual and justiciable controversy” had existed in regard to the Assembly’s court filing on these three vetoes.

Burgum’s contested partial vetoes, which were performed after the 65th Regular Session of the Legislative Assembly adjourned in April 2017, involved five items in four appropriation bills. Burgum used his veto power to strike through “certain language in the bills before signing them into law,” the ruling states.

The Legislative Assembly petitioned for declaratory judgment voiding the five partial vetoes, “declaring that the bills, without the challenged vetoes, are current law.” 

Further, if the declaratory judgment is not granted, the Assembled sought a writ of mandamus, which compelled the governor to treat the partial vetoes as a nullity. 

Burgum issued a statement in September 2017 that said that the lawsuit filed by the Legislative Assembly wasn’t a “prudent use of taxpayer dollars,” according to the Bismarck Tribune.

North Dakota Supreme Court case number 2018 ND 189

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