A couple of state lawmakers from Grand Forks now live outside of the district that they represent, but that’s OK under state law.
Reps. Curt Kreun and Corey Mock said they both checked with the state Legislative Council and found they could continue to represent their district until the next election.
“This happens all the time,” said Kreun. “People move.” He said knows of at least three other legislators in the state “in the same boat right now.”
Kreun, a Republican representing District 43, has moved into a home in District 42.
Mock, assistant minority leader and a Democrat representing District 42, has moved into a home in District 18.
At the Legislative Council, attorney John Bjornson said he sees state lawmakers living outside their district regularly though not frequently — a couple every year or so — and it’s generally not against the law or the rules. Even if they move out of state.
It typically involves a lawmaker moving out of the district after election, and usually is tied to plans not to run for reelection, he said.
Bjornson said he has been fielding some questions this week raised in a post by political blogger Rob Port at Sayanythingblog.com.
Port cited Section 44-02-01 of the North Dakota Century Code in his post on Tuesday: “An office becomes vacant if the incumbent shall... Cease to be a resident of the state, district, county, or other political subdivision in which the duties of the office are to be discharged, or for which the person may have been elected.”
“Unless I’m missing something, it seems Legislative Council is choosing to simply ignore this law,” Port said.
Kreun said Port is missing something and is citing a law that doesn’t apply to elective offices.
The state constitution sets out basic qualifications for holding office, in one provision saying every U.S. citizen at least 18 and a North Dakota resident, is a “qualified elector.” Under the legislature’s section in the constitution: “Each person elected to the legislative assembly must be, on the day of the election, a qualified elector in the district from which the member was chosen and must have been a resident of the state for one year immediately prior to that election.”
Other state provisions say to be a qualified elector in a specific district, a person must reside there 30 days before election day, Bjornson said. Moving out of the district after election day does not disqualify the lawmaker from holding the seat, he said.
In the early 1990s, two Grand Forks legislators, Republican Jack Ingstad and Democrat Sarah Carlson, moved out of state during their House terms and didn’t run for reelection in 1992. Ingstad moved to Colorado after the 1991 session and Carlson moved to Washington, but continued serving in the interim, including a special session.
Page 2 of 2 - Reelection plans
Mock and Kreun said Friday that they aren’t sure if they are running for reelection.
For Mock, whose term expires 2016, there’s a lot of planning to do before he can decide. He said he and his fiancée plan to get married and start a family and both are starting new jobs.
Speaking of the election-day residency requirement, he said, “I have to obviously look at that, what our family plans are and whether I can run for a third term in 2016, and evaluate then from where we are living.”
All three legislative seats in District 18 are currently held by Democrats.
Mock said his new home is “less than a mile” from District 42 and he works at UND, in the district.
“I’m still in District 42 every single day,” he said. “It hasn’t changed anything about how I do my work of representing District 42.”
Kreun said he and his wife needed to downsize from their large house to a smaller home.
“Number one, taxes are too high because of the large house,” he said. The couple also needed a smaller home to manage, he said. “There are not that many places available.”
He moved a little more than a mile from District 43.
Kreun said he isn’t certain about any reelection plans and has more than a year to decide. He said he might even move back into District 43 before his term is up at the end of 2014.