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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The director of the North Dakota Legislature’s research arm is retiring after 39 years with the agency.

Jim Smith, 62, said he’s leaving the Legislative Council at the end of August to travel and spend more time with his family.

“The time is right, after 19 sessions,” Smith said. “It’s never easy to decide to quit but the office is in a good position. It’s fully staffed and there are good people in place so it makes it a little easier.”

The Legislative Council is the North Dakota Legislature’s nonpartisan research arm. It has a staff of 36 people and a two-year budget of about $12 million. The staff includes eight attorneys and eight budget analysts who help lawmakers with research, bill drafting and budget proposals.

Smith is a native of Sherwood, a certified public accountant and a graduate of the University of North Dakota. He’s worked for the Legislative Council since 1979 and was hired as director in 2007. He previously was the council’s legislative budget analyst and auditor, which is the top position on the agency’s fiscal staff

Smith was the first accountant to head the agency that was established in 1945; most others have been lawyers.

Smith is paid $191,000 annually.

The Legislative Management Committee, a 17-member panel of lawmakers, will hire a new director before the Legislature returns to Bismarck in January, said GOP Sen. Ray Holmberg, who heads the committee.

Holmberg said he doesn’t know yet if the committee, which includes the Legislature’s Democratic and Republican floor leaders, will hire someone from the agency or look outside it.

“You have to deal in a nonpolitical way in a very political environment,” Holmberg said of the person who heads the agency. “That’s not an easy task.”