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Legislative Report District 22: Floor activity in Senate and House continues to increase

Spring greetings from your District 22 legislators.

The House of Representatives continues to work on Senate bills and the Senate on House bills.  Floor action in both chambers continues to increase.

To become law, a bill must be passed by both houses in the same form. Upon the return of a measure amended by the other house, the chairman of the standing committee must review and either concur or not concur. If the chairman does not concur, a conference committee is assigned to work out the differences, and must again go through both chambers for approval. Each house appoints three members to the conference committee, so again there is a checks and balance process. 

Governor Jack Dalrymple has signed a number of bills. They now become law on Aug. 1, 2011, or if the emergency clause was added and approved, at the designated date or upon the date of his signature. The governor does have the right to veto, but once it has been approved by both chambers we hope he will agree, and sign into law.

Bills recently signed into law include:

SB2301: which relates to the disposition of township funds upon dissolution. If the majority of votes cast at the township meeting are in favor of dissolution, the township ceases to be a corporation on the next succeeding January first. In part it states that after the township's debts and liabilities are met; any funds derived from property taxes levied by the township may be allocated among taxpayers of the township. All records must be turned over for preservation to the appropriate county auditor.

HB 1219: designation of the convergent lady beetle, hippodamia  convergrens, commonly known as the ladybug, is the official insect of the state of North Dakota. 

HB1263:  designates that the intercollegiate athletic teams sponsored by the University of North Dakota shall be known as the University of North Dakota fighting Sioux. Neither the University of North Dakota nor the State Board of Higher Education may take any action to discontinue the use of the fighting Sioux nickname or the fighting Sioux logo in use on Jan. 1, 2011. 

Committees are finishing up their work, preparing recommendations. The appropriate committees have not arrived at a recommendation for the funding assistance for the flood diversion project in Fargo, the water problems in Devils Lake, the infrastructure problems throughout the state, but especially in the oil counties, and the K-12 education budget. Everyone has their own "special bills" but some that have had considerable interest (at least by the number of e-mails received) are:

SB 2157: would increase the fine from $20 to $100 for accessing a closed road from a location where there is no barrier, and it would increase the fine from $20 to $250, as well as add a 4 point penalty on your driver's license, for deliberately going around a barrier and accessing a closed road.  It would also allow law enforcement to require an individual to pay the expenses of any assistance provided.

There are three bills which are similar, yet have some differences:  HB 1190 which relates to distracted driving, and fees for a moving violation; HB 1195 relates to the use of a wireless communications device and demerit points; and HB 1256 which relates to demerit points and using an electronic communication device; relating to a graduated operator's license and a moving violation. 

HCR 3046 would create and enact a new section to the Constitution of North Dakota. This would create a department of education, effective Jan. 1, 2015. This department would oversee and administer all public education in the state. If this House Concurrent Resolution passes, it will be placed on the 2012 ballot for a public vote.

As the House Majority Leader stated in his weekly message - we need to stay focused.  We are looking forward to April 22, the anticipated finishing day!

We look forward to hearing from you - contact us by e-mail: Senator Gary A. Lee:; Representative Wes Belter:; and Vonnie Pietsch:; or leave a message at 1-888-NDLegis (635-3447) or TTY (1-800-366-6888) to reach a relay operator for hearing-impaired persons.