Jay Buringrud, Class of '72, Retires from North Dakota Legislative Council

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School of Law


A fixture at the North Dakota Legislative Council who arrived just after the state's unsuccessful 1972 vote on a new state constitution has called it a career.

Jay Buringrud, director of the agency's Legal Services Division, stepped down Thursday after 42 years with the Legislative Council after recently filing a letter tendering his resignation.

A Hillsboro native, Buringrud graduated from the North Dakota State University in 1969 and University of North Dakota School of Law in 1972.

The 1972 state constitutional convention had occurred in early 1972. Buringrud was hired by Legislative Council tasked with overseeing revisions to the constitution if it passed.

"(I was) hired for a nine-month stint," Buringrud said.

Buringrud's position had been funded by the Legislature in anticipation that the new constitution would pass. It failed in April 1972, prior to his arrival to the office in July.

Buringrud worked the time he'd been hired for and stayed on at Legislative Council. The rest is history.

He was promoted to code adviser in 1975. From 1983 to 2008 he served as assistant director in the office, when the agency was split into divisions. Buringrud oversaw the Legal Services Division until Thursday.

One thing he said he was proud of while serving as code adviser was having compiled all different state agency rules and codified them into the North Dakota Administrative Code. He also had received special legislative authority to rearrange, renumber the provisions and publish the state constitution.

The job has largely stayed the same although the tools with which the job is done have evolved enormously, he said.

"The technology has really taken over" Buringrud said.

Buringrud said technology has streamlined the process of researching and revising bill drafts, code and coordinating with lawmakers.

Being with staff and being involved in the process is what he]ll miss most, he said.

Another thing he'll miss is the picking through the nuts and bolts of legal writing.

"I like to know what the laws are. I]m more of a writing, statutory construction type attorney," Buringrud said.

Retired agency director John Olsrud, who worked with Buringrud from the time of his hire until his own retirement several years ago, praised Buringrud's service.

"One area in which he excelled was in mastering legislative rules," Olsrud said via email. "When a leader, especially majority leaders, needed help during a sensitive debate on the floor it was not unusual to see Jay being called in for a consultation. Jay will be hard to replace."

Buringrud said he'll remain in Bismarck with his family and plans to spend time working with several fraternal organizations he's involved with.