North Dakota special session costs within budget at $301,000

BIMSARCK (AP) — The cost of North Dakota’s special five-day session last month is within the amount allotted, a legislative budget analyst said Thursday.

Figures released to The Associated Press show costs incurred by taxpayers total just more than $301,000. About $316,000 was budgeted for the session, highlighted by redistricting legislation and the spending of nearly the entire amount of the $1.1 billion in federal coronavirus aid available to the state. The Republican-led Legislature also approved policy-related measures, including bills banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the teaching of certain concepts about race and racism in public schools.

Eleven of the Legislature’s 141 members had not submitted lodging and mileage expenses as of Thursday, said Allen Knudson, the lead budget analyst at the Legislative Council, the Legislature’s research arm.

“We expect the final cost of the special session to be very close to the amount budgeted,” Knudson said.

Legislators make $189 daily while in session. Each day they are in a special or reconvened session costs taxpayers about $64,000, budget writers estimate.

In addition to their daily legislative pay, the House speaker and majority and minority leaders of both parties get an extra $15 daily. Committee chairmen and assistant floor leaders are paid an additional $10.

Legislators who do not live in Bismarck or Mandan are eligible for a housing allowance. Motel bills are reimbursed up to $87 a night, plus tax. Lawmakers also may claim 56 cents a mile for travel.

There is no meal allowance when the Legislature is in session.

Lawmakers are paid $518 a month and $186 a day during a regular session. They also receive a housing allowance during the session of more than $1,800 a month and are included on the state-funded employee health plan worth about $1,425 monthly.


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