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North Dakota’s Burgum hits optimistic note in State of State

January 3, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Latest on the start of the North Dakota legislative session (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

Gov. Doug Burgum says North Dakota is emerging from a prolonged economic slump and is positioned to be a global leader in technology, and food and energy production.

Burgum told a joint session of the state House and Senate that the “world will need more and more of what North Dakota has.”

The upbeat state-of-the-state address was in contrast to the one the first-term Republican governor gave two years ago, where he cautioned lawmakers to control spending. 

Burgum took office amid a sharp downturn in tax revenues due to prolonged slumps in oil and agriculture prices. The state’s current two-year budget was balanced last year through layoffs, and raids on state savings.

Much of his speech’s details were included in the two-year, $14.3 billion budget he proposed last month.

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11:30 a.m.

North Dakota Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle (VAN’-duh-wall) wants state lawmakers to add one new judgeship in Bismarck and six additional court employees to help offset increased workloads due to previous budget cutbacks.

The chief justice made his appeal Thursday in his State of the Judiciary speech to a joint session of the North Dakota House and Senate.

VandeWalle says 55 positions were cut in the last session as state revenue fell. He says the entire court system has suffered.

VandeWalle also wants lawmakers to consider remodeling the state’s law library to make better use of that space. He says the many law books are available electronically, and the state no longer needs to maintain a large law library.

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11 a.m.

The chairwoman of the Spirit Lake Nation says tribal leaders and North Dakota lawmakers should work together for the future of all the state’s residents.

Myra Pearson told a joint session of the House and Senate on Thursday that “we have a lot of children who are counting on us.”

Since 1985, a tribal chairman from one of North Dakota’s five reservations has given a speech to the Legislature. It was scrubbed at the last session two years ago because of protests of the four-state, $3.8 million Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Pearson says North Dakota and its tribes have become a national leader in energy. She says it’s important to learn from both bad and good experiences and build strong relationships.

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6 a.m.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is set to deliver his State of the State address as the biennial legislative session begins.

The Republican governor on Thursday is set to talk about the challenges facing North Dakota.

The session officially starts at noon, but activities begin earlier with presentations from a Native American tribal leader and from the state’s chief justice.

Spirit Lake Sioux Chairwoman Myra Pearson will speak about the relationship between state government and tribal governments. Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle (VAN’-duh-wall) follows with his State of the Judiciary speech.

Burgum is delivering his State of the State address at 1 p.m., after the Senate and the House convene in a joint session.

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