Last Thursday, we published an article discussing the fact that the North Dakota Senate had taken the first step of overriding Governor Doug Burgum’s veto of Senate Bill 2244 by a vote of 41-4. The bill proposed doubling commercial and noncommercial driver’s licenses from $15 to $30.
As the bill was set to be heard for consideration of an override today, it was expected by many that the chances were pretty good that it would happen. After all, when SB 2244 first passed the House, it did so on a vote of 65-25. But it didn’t pan out that way— at all. By the time the votes were tallied, it actually wasn’t even close to the 2/3 needed to make it law. The House defeated it by a vote of 47-44— an 18 vote difference from the last time they considered it.
I suppose there’s a number of reasons that the vote panned out the way that it did, but I think there’s three very important ones that are possibilities. First, I think we’d be naïve to believe that it wasn’t on the minds of a few legislators that overriding the veto may well leave some with the impression that Governor Burgum is more conservative than they are. Second, Representatives Dan Johnston (R – District 24) and Rick Becker (R – District 7) made compelling cases during floor debate today for sustaining the override. They’re absolutely worth watching. Third, there was unquestionably an effort by Rep. Johnston leading up to the vote to get some of his colleagues to change their minds on the issue.
As I’ve mentioned before, if all things were equal — meaning the State wasn’t taxing and spending too much, the driver’s license department was at peak efficiency, and we knew exactly how much these licenses cost the state — an argument for raising fees might have been more palatable. But that’s simply not the case.
The House did the right thing by rejecting the override efforts.