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North Dakota Honors Nation’s Longest-Serving Legislator

March 19, 1987

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ Brynhild Haugland, who took her seat in the North Dakota House eight governors and almost five decades ago, was honored Wednesday by the Legislature as the nation’s longest-serving state lawmaker.

The 81-year-old Republican from Minot rode to work Wednesday in the chauffeured limousine normally reserved for Gov. George Sinner, a Democrat who had proclaimed Wednesday as ″Brynhild Haugland Day.″

Miss Haugland, greeted with a 40-second standing ovation during a joint assembly called in her honor, said she considered the lawmakers her family.

″I am quite alone in this world, but I can assure you that your confidence in me has meant a great deal,″ she said.

Miss Haugland never married, and some cousins are her only immediate family.

The Legislature voted Wednesday to name a room in the Capitol after her, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph Erickstad presented a 2-inch-thick collection of the legislation Miss Haugland has sponsored.

″Serving in the Legislature is a privilege,″ Miss Haugland told the assembly. ″It has been an important part of my life.″

″In the Legislature, I’d speak of her as the Great Equalizer,″ said Rep. Jim Peterson, also of Minot, who has served with her for 22 years. ″When the Democrats aren’t sure of something, and when the Republicans aren’t sure of something, they go to Brynhild.″

Miss Haugland, who was first elected in 1938, has served for a week longer than state Sen. Rembert Dennis of South Carolina, according to research done by the Legislative Council, the research arm of the North Dakota Legislature.

″I am very pleased and honored,″ Miss Haugland said on the way to the Capitol. ″Of course I’m pleased for our state that we have the longest- serving legislator.″

Retirement? ″We don’t discuss that at all,″ she said.

Miss Haugland still lives on an 800-acre dairy farm northwest of Minot that was homesteaded by her parents, Norwegian immigrants, although she rents out the land now.

She broke a leg during her first, unsuccessful run for the Legislature in 1936, but won in 1938 and in every election since.

At the Capitol, the farm owner and former teacher was greeted by all employees and members of the House.

Five bouquets of red roses surrounded her desk, at the back railing of the House chamber. The location makes it easier to speak to constituents in the floor gallery, she said.

″I feel like I always do,″ Miss Haugland said. ″I feel very undeserving of any of this. There are so many people doing good things for this state that could be honored besides me.″

But her colleagues were less reserved, speaking of Miss Haugland as an influential lawmaker. She has been the longtime chairman of the House Human Services and Veterans Affairs Committee.

″I count friends in both parties,″ said Miss Haugland. ″I’m not a very partisan person.″

Asked for advice to other officeholders, she says: ″Most every good thing can be accomplished eventually if you are not particular who gets the credit.″

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