The North Dakota Legislative Council was created in 1945 as the Legislative Research Committee (LRC). The LRC had a slow beginning during the first interim of its existence because, as reported in the first biennial report, the prevailing war conditions prevented the employment of a research director until April 1946.
After the hiring of a research director, the first LRC held monthly meetings prior to the 1947 legislative session and recommended a number of bills to that session. Even though the legislation creating the LRC permitted the appointment of subcommittees, all of the interim work was performed by the 11 statutory members until the 1953-54 interim, when other legislators participated in studies. Although "research" was its middle name, in its early years the LRC served primarily as a screening agency for proposed legislation submitted by state departments and organizations. This screening role is evidenced by the fact that as early as 1949, the LRC presented 100 proposals prepared or sponsored by the committee which the biennial report indicated were not all necessarily endorsed by the committee and included were several alternative or conflicting proposals.
The name of the LRC was changed to the Legislative Council in 1969 to more accurately reflect the scope of its duties. Since 2009 Legislative Council refers specifically to the staff functioning as the legislative service agency while Legislative Management refers to the oversight committee of legislators. Although research is still an integral part of the functioning of the Legislative Council, it has become a comprehensive legislative service agency with various duties in addition to research.
The Legislative Council staff consists of attorneys, accountants, researchers, and auxiliary personnel who are hired and who serve on a strictly nonpartisan basis.
The Legislative Management conducts studies through its committees and the Legislative Council staff provides a wide range of services to legislators, other state agencies, and the public. Attorneys on the staff provide legal advice and counsel on legislative matters to legislators and legislative committees. The Legislative Council supervises the publication of the Session Laws, the North Dakota Century Code, and the North Dakota Administrative Code. The Legislative Council has on its staff the Legislative Budget Analyst and Auditor and assistants who provide technical assistance to the Legislative Management committees and legislators and who review audit reports for the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee. The Legislative Council provides computer services to the legislative branch, including research and bill drafting capabilities. The Legislative Council's library contains a wide variety of materials and reference documents, many of which are not available from other sources.