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North Dakota Legislative Assembly Then...and Now! - 1st Legislative Session

The 1st Legislative Assembly of North Dakota consisted of 62 representatives and 31 senators. Of the 93 legislators, none were born in the Dakota Territory.

The Constitution of North Dakota provided that legislators were entitled to compensation for their service during each legislative session at a rate of $5 per day ($128.21 in 2014) and 10 cents per mile expense reimbursement.

Printing for the 1889 legislative session was done by the Bismarck Tribune Company (currently known as The Bismarck Tribune, the capital city newspaper). Today bids are placed by local printing companies.

In 1889 smoking was a regular habit of most people.  People were permitted to smoke in the House and Senate chambers as long as they were not in session. Smoking was permitted in the Capitol until April 17, 1990, when Governor George Sinner banned it by executive order.  Brass spittoons were also provided throughout the Capitol for those who preferred chewing tobacco.

Terms used by the legislative body have evolved over the years. In 1889 the Latin term "viva voce" meaning "with living voice" or "by word of mouth" was the term used for responding verbally to a vote, topic, or motion.  Today the term "voice vote" is used.  The Governor was referred to as "His Excellency."  Today he is referred to as "Governor."



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Photos courtesy of the State Historical Society and the Legislative Council