- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The North Dakota Legislature slogged through most of its remaining measures Tuesday, which lawmakers had initially hoped would be their final day of work.

But Senate-House haggling over everything from final agency budget numbers to the salary for the governor slowed progress to a crawl. Lawmakers now hope to finish their work Wednesday night, the 76th day of the 2017 session. The North Dakota Constitution limits the Legislature to 80 days of meetings every two years.

Only a few bills remain, but they are among the state’s most important, including new two-year budgets for human services, higher education and the Office of Management and Budget, which serves as the Republican-controlled Legislature’s last-minute catch-all bill.

House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo and his Republican Senate counterpart, Rich Wardner of Dickinson, said the push toward adjournment would likely speed up Wednesday once House and Senate negotiators finish work on agency budgets, putting the finishing touches on a two-year, $4.3 billion general fund spending plan.

Lawmakers also had not resolved differences late Tuesday afternoon over whether to honor Gov. Doug Burgum’s campaign pledge to give back his governor’s salary. Senate budget writers earlier accepted an amendment by Burgum that would pay him only $1 annually. But the House rejected the amendment, which has held up the entire $4 million budget for the governor’s office.

Burgum has said he would forgo his $130,000 annual salary due to tough spending decisions with a downturn in the state’s energy economy.

Previous opinions by two North Dakota attorneys general have been critical of officeholders promising to take less money.

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