BISMARCK – North Dakota State House leaders deliberated on whether a vote should happen before a bill seeking to require permission from landowners failed to be reconsidered Wednesday.
Senate Bill 2251 would have required corporations to obtain written consent from a landowner, or a court order, to survey the landowner’s land during the eminent domain process. The bill failed the House Tuesday by a vote of 46 to 46.
When Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Dis. 38, Minot, moved to reconsider the bill Thursday, Speaker of the House, Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Dis. 15, Devils Lake, ruled to deny the reconsideration vote, saying the front desk needs a 30-minute notice to retrieve the scripts.
“I hesitate to allow this to happen today, because we do have rules,” said Johnson. “As Speaker I’m going to rule that we do not allow this to come forward today, and maybe we’ll follow the rules in the future.”
Speaker of the House, Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Dis. 15, Devils Lake, top right, rules to deny a motion to reconsider a bill. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)
“I question the ruling of the chair, and here’s why,” said Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Dis. 46, Fargo. “The ruling you’re referring to, is that a rule that you imposed yourself, or is it a ruling that this body imposed on ourselves?”
“This is a rule that I feel like enforcing because from the beginning of session we all have known the rule, and here we sit on the 54th day, and we want to do something two minutes before session starts,” Johnson replied. “That creates the problem a little bit for my assistant for all scripts to be handed out and get it into the system. It takes about ten minutes to get it into the system.”
After a five-minute recess for deliberation, the House leaders decided to allow the vote to take place.
“The concern is that in the future this would be done a half hour ahead of time,” said Majority Leader Mike Lefor, R-Dis. 37, Dickinson. “Now that is not in our rules, but we want to get that a half hour ahead of time so that the front desk can adjust to it.”
In debating the motion to reconsider, legislators expressed concern that obtaining permission from landowners would delay projects due to short summer months, and the surveying of their land does minimal damage and does not infringe on property rights.
Others argued surveying the land without permission does infringe on property rights, and that if companies planned ahead it would not delay the projects.
The motion to reconsider failed by a vote of 53 to 37.