Lawmakers hear testimony on ending North Dakota’s state of emergency

More than two dozen people submitted testimony over whether to end North Dakota’s state of emergency.

A House resolution would end the order if passed by both chambers, but several state leaders oppose the measure. That includes the mayors of Minot, Fargo, Williston and Grand Forks, as well as the state’s health department, and the adjutant general of the National Guard, among others.

Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma says the state hasn’t turned the corner far enough to end the emergency, and he worries that federal funding will be in jeopardy without the declaration.

“We’re exhausted. But I can tell you we’re not nearly as tired or exhausted as medical professionals. Our heroes on the front lines that we talk with on a daily basis through the worst of times and now through the retraction — I’m continuing to listen to them and hear them say that this isn’t over yet,” Sipma said.

Those in favor of the bill say emergencies shouldn’t last as long as this one has, which has now been in place just over 10 months. Gov. Doug Burgum declared the state of emergency on March 13 of last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It can only end if he rescinds the order, or if lawmakers pass a resolution to end it. Currently, 49 states are still under a state of emergency.

“We can’t just keep going in a state of emergency hoping for everybody to be healthy, because it’s not going to happen. Take a poll of yourselves, how many of us are on medications, history of disease. There’s no perfect world,” said Colette, a citizen from Denbigh who testified at the hearing.

The resolution would have to pass in the House and Senate before being enacted.

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