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Senate approves measure to limit governor’s declarations

February 4, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Senate has endorsed legislation that would limit emergency or disaster declarations by a governor and allow the Legislature more oversight of executive branch action.

The bill was passed along party lines on Thursday. All seven Democrats in the Senate opposed the measure. It now heads to the House for consideration.

The legislation was inspired by a rash of executive orders filed by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, most in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Edinburg Republican Sen. Janne Myrdal sponsored the bill. It would limit emergency or disaster declarations to 30 days. It could be extended another 30 days if the governor calls a special session of the Legislature, which could be held virtually.

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Burgum filed about 45 executive orders in 2020, from requiring face coverings to imposing business in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 as it stressed the state’s hospital capacity.

GOP lawmakers have argued that they should have had more say in those decisions.

Democratic Sen. JoNell Bakke of Grand Forks says the Legislature should not micromanage all disaster and emergency decisions by the governor.