Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Texas are holding elections next week. Find out what's on your ballot in our latest report.

North Dakota Legislative Assembly

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
North Dakota Legislative Assembly

Flag of North Dakota.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 6, 2015
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Drew Wrigley (R)
House Speaker:  Wesley Belter (R)
Majority Leader:   Rich Wardner (R) (Senate),
Al Carlson (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Mac Schneider (D) (Senate),
Kenton Onstad (D) (House)
Members:  47 (Senate), 94 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 4 years (House)
Authority:   Art IV, North Dakota Constitution
Salary:   $152/day + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
24 seats (Senate)
48 seats (House)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
23 seats (Senate)
46 seats (House)
Redistricting:  North Dakota Legislature has control
The North Dakota Legislative Assembly is the state legislature of North Dakota. The Legislative Assembly consists of two bodies, the lower North Dakota House of Representatives and the upper North Dakota Senate. A Legislative Council and its research, administrative and support staff also assist the Legislative Assembly in its day-to-day activities.

The Legislative Assembly convenes within the 19-story Art Deco state capitol building in Bismarck.

Because the House and Senate sit for only 80 days in odd-numbered years, the Legislative Council oversees legislative affairs in the interim periods, doing longer-term studies of issues, and drafting legislation for consideration of both houses at the next session.

As of March 2015, North Dakota is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: North Dakota House of Representatives, North Dakota State Senate, North Dakota Governor


Article IV of the North Dakota Constitution establishes when the Assembly is to be in session. Section 7 of Article IV states that the Assembly is to convene in regular session every January after a legislative election. This means that the Assembly convenes in January of every odd-numbered year. Section 7 specifies that the convening date is to be the first Tuesday after the third day in January, unless this date is changed by law. Section 7 limits the length of regular sessions to no more than eighty days every two years.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature will be in session from January 6 through late April (Projected).

Major issues

Major issues in the 2015 legislative session include funding for oil country, Common Core education standards, income taxes and higher education funding.[1]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature did not hold a regular session.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to May 4.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session were focused mostly on the oil boom in western North Dakota and included a budget, the state surplus, improved transportation infrastructure, and decreasing crime.[2]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was not in regular session.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislative Assembly was in regular session from January 4 through April 28.[3] A special session was called by Governor Jack Dalrymple from November 7 through 12 to cover legislative redistricting and disaster relief.[4]

Interim Committees

On May 25, 2011 the Legislative Management Committee appointed members to the state's interim committees. Historically, majority and minority members of the Legislative Management Committee are appointed as chairs of the interim committees. However in 2011, only Republican legislators were appointed to chair interim committees. House Minority Leader Jerome Kelsh (D) called the move partisan and a "break with tradition." House Majority Leader Al Carlson (D) argued that the appointments reflected wishes of voters in electing Republican candidates. Regardless of the particular committee chair, Republicans will be a majority on all committees. Only a few states permit minority committee chairs.[5]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislative Assembly did not meet in regular session.[6]

Role in state budget

See also: North Dakota state budget and finances
North Dakota on Horizontal-Policypedia logo-color.png
Check out Policypedia articles about policy in your state on:

The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[7][8]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in March and/or April of the year preceding the start of the new biennium.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in June and/or July.
  3. Agency hearings are held from July through October.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in the first week of December.
  5. The legislature typically adopts a budget in April. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The new biennium begins in July.

North Dakota is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[8]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the state legislature is legally required to pass a balanced budget.[8]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. North Dakota was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.[9]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[10] According to the report, North Dakota received a grade of D and a numerical score of 56, indicating that North Dakota was "lagging" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[10]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. North Dakota was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[11]


The North Dakota State Senate is the upper house of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.

North Dakota is divided into between 40 and 54 legislative districts apportioned by population as determined by the decennial census. The 2000 redistricting plan provided for 47 districts. As each district elects 1 representative to the Senate, there are 47 Senators. Each member represents an average of 14,310 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[12] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 13,664.[13]

Senators serve 4-year terms. Elections are staggered such that half the districts have elections every 2 years.

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 15
     Republican Party 32
Total 47

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the North Dakota State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the North Dakota State Senate.PNG

House of Representatives

The North Dakota House of Representatives is the lower house of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly. Each of North Dakota's 47 districts elects 2 Representatives to the House, for a total of 94 Representatives. Each member represents an average of 7,155 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[12] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 6,832.[13]

Representatives serve 4-year terms. Elections are staggered such that half the districts have elections every 2 years.

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 23
     Republican Party 71
Total 94

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the North Dakota State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the North Dakota State House.PNG


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, North Dakota
Partisan breakdown of the North Dakota legislature from 1992-2013

North Dakota State Senate: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the North Dakota State Senate for the first three years while the Republicans were the majority for the last 19 years. The North Dakota State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. North Dakota was under Republican trifectas for the last 19 years.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

North Dakota State House of Representatives: During every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the North Dakota State House of Representatives. The North Dakota House of Representatives is one of nine state Houses that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. North Dakota has been under Republican trifectas for the last 19 years.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of North Dakota, the North Dakota State Senate and the North Dakota House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of North Dakota state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of North Dakota's state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. From 1995-2013 North Dakota had Republican trifectas. The state's lowest SQLI rating, finishing 30th, occurred from 1998-1999. In more recent years of the study, North Dakota's rankings improved, moving it into the top-10 from 2009-2012. Its best ranking, finishing 3rd, occurred in 2012.

Chart displaying the partisanship of North Dakota government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).


See also: Public policy in North Dakota

There no permanent joint committees in the North Dakota Legislative Assembly. However, the state does appoint joint interim committees. A list of all committees can be found here.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the North Dakota Legislature are paid $152/day during legislative sessions and for attending interim committee meetings. Legislators receive lodging reimbursements up to $1,351/month (vouchered).[14]


North Dakota does not provide pensions for legislators.[15]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

North Dakota legislators assume office December 1st.

See also

External links


  1. Prairie Business, "Oil country funding most anticipated issue of ND legislative session," January 2, 2015
  2. NewsOK, "Oil issues to dominate ND legislative session," January 6, 2013
  3. North Dakota Legislative Assembly, "View House Floor Calendar," accessed August 18, 2014
  4. The Bismarck Tribune, "N.D. House leader: Special session starts Nov. 7," September 15, 2011
  5. PlainsDaily, "ND Dems Disappointed With No Chairmanship Assignments," May 25, 2011
  6. North Dakota Legislative Assembly, "61st Legislative Assembly," accessed August 18, 2014
  7. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  9. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  11. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1, "Census 2000 PHC-T-2. Ranking Tables for States: 1990 and 2000," accessed May 15, 2014
  14., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  15. USA Today, "State-by-state: Benefits available to state legislators," September 23, 2011