District 13 Legislative Report: "Crossover" approaches, marking time for House bills to move to Senate
Some refer to it as the halfway point of a legislative session. Others liken it to the end of the first period, in a three period "hockey game." The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but "Crossover," which takes place at the end of this week, is clearly a benchmark in each legislative session.
It is the point by which the House must complete action on all House bills and send them on to the Senate, and visa versa. It also marks the only "break" - a long weekend - for a Legislature that works, even through holidays, every two years.
After Crossover, each house of the legislature will work on bills from the other. Some bills will pass, others will be defeated, and yet others will be amended. That latter group will give rise to the "third period" in the "hockey" analogy - the time when Conference Committees work out the differences between House and Senate versions of bills. Usually, that begins with policy bills and concludes with budgets, as each session draws to a close.
The Constitution limits the North Dakota Legislature to meeting for 80 days every other year. That would place adjournment in late April this year, but look for adjournment as early as possible, with legislative leaders anxious to save some days for redistricting and, potentially, to deal with federal health care regulations.
The governor can call the legislature into a special session and, if he does so, the days consumed by such a session do not count against the 80-day limit. If the legislature calls itself into session, however, that special session's days must fall within the limit.
Two education bills I've sponsored, working with the West Fargo School District, have passed the House and are on their way to the Senate. One would allow for readiness testing for Kindergarten students during the school year, while the other would allow schools to place portable classrooms on temporary foundations. That's the way it's always been done before, but a change in the International Building Code would have required their future placement on permanent foundations which, of course, doesn't make sense for temporary structures.
A few of the others I've sponsored, co-sponsored, chaired subcommittees on or carried include: Tougher law against stalkers (involving prior offenses); tightening laws against "surreptitious intrusion" (secretly photographing, videotaping, and/or distributing images without the subject's knowledge and approval), including so-called "sexting;" new requirements for one of our two classes of N.D. concealed weapons permits, to help obtain reciprocity with other states; protections for public records held by N.D. government agencies; limiting enforcement of mandatory evacuation orders to life and death emergency situations; and improvements to joint powers agreements (law enforcement agencies aiding neighbors).
The Constitutional Revision Committee, which I chair, will see most of its work after crossover.
Your legislators appreciate hearing from you. You may reach us by e-mail, telephone or mail: Sen. Judy Lee (email@example.com; 282-6512); Rep. Alon Wieland (firstname.lastname@example.org; 282-9470); Rep. Kim Koppelman (email@example.com; 282-9267). ND Capitol: 600 E. Blvd. Ave., Bismarck, N.D. 58505.