- Associated Press - Thursday, April 20, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota legislators are in a scramble to wrap up their work and leave at least a few days on the books before the constitutional 80-day limit hits.

The urgency was clear Thursday when Republican Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner addressed the chamber in a pep talk likely reminiscent of his days as a high school basketball coach in Dickinson - when the team was behind at halftime.

“We’re going to have to shake and bake,” he told fellow senators.

Lawmakers had hoped to be finished in 70 days to give themselves a cushion if they need to react to any continuing declines in state revenue or federal policy changes. They also had mulled meeting Saturday with hopes of finishing the entire session then, but dropped that idea Thursday as more than a two dozen bills remained, including a number embroiled in conference committee negotiations about their final wording.

The session opened in January with more than 800 measures.

Wardner and his Republican House majority counterpart, Al Carlson of Fargo, said they now are hoping to adjourn sometime Tuesday to still leave at least a handful of days that could be used in the future to address unforeseen problems, without the governor having to call a special session.

Majority leaders set three floor sessions on Friday, at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Still ahead also are big spending bills, including higher education, human services, the Public Employees Retirement System, and the Office of Management and Budget, which serves as the Legislature’s last-minute catch-all bill.

The session’s last day is commonly called Sine Die, which means adjourning without setting another meeting. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman was hopeful that would happen Tuesday but said “there is a lot of work left to do.”

The Legislature ended its longest session ever in 2013, when it logged 80 days. Lawmakers met for more than 20 hours straight on the last day of that session.

The 1975 Legislature finished its work in 53 days, the shortest session in modern history.

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