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Legislative Report District 22: New session activity level gearing up quickly

By Rep. Pete Silbernagel

The North Dakota 63rd Legislative Assembly has completed its’ first three weeks of business and the level of activity is picking up on all fronts. Jan. 21 was the deadline for representatives to introduce bills and Jan. 28 the deadline for senate members to introduce their bills. At the time of this printing the final number of bills introduced from both the House and Senate were not tallied, but it should approach 1000 bills combined.

Several other key dates are Jan. 31, the deadline for introduction of resolutions, and Feb. 11, the deadline for re-referrals of bills in house of origin to Appropriations Committees.

The two committees that I have been assigned to are Human Services, and Energy and Natural Resources. The Human Services Committee meets on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays and deals with a host of bills related to meeting human needs. This includes bills that seek to improve accessibility, accountability and coordination among professionals and agencies delivering services. The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources deals with oil, gas, coal, transmission of electricity, hunting, water issues and parks and recreation bills and meets on Thursday’s and Friday’s.

This past week the Human Services Committee heard bills related to smoking in public places of employment and the responsibilities of proprietors. Related, HB 12 53 was heard and deals with reimbursement for costs incurred to comply with smoking restrictions in public places and places of employment. Additionally, HB 1305 was heard and prohibits abortions for sex selection or genetic abnormalities. The Committee will vote on these bills in the coming weeks.

The committee on Energy and Natural Resources key activities this past week included approving HB 1130 which authorizes an across the board hunting and fishing license fee increase. This bill, if passed, would help offset the reduced N.D. Game and Fish Department revenue that has resulted from the decrease number of licenses allotted, especially for deer. The committee also passed HB 1061 and if passed would address violations of water appropriations. This is related to the sale of water for uses unauthorized by water permit conditions. This bill is much needed to mitigate the risk of the unlawful sale of water.

The above mentioned are just a few of the pieces of legislation that are in the hopper. If you are interested in learning more about these bills or any proposed bill I would suggest you check out website and check out the new and improved Legislative Bill Tracking System. If you want to track specific bills, committees, schedules, it is all available to interested persons. The system is now fully functional and there is no user fee for this application. It is also a great site to follow legislation that is being sponsored by your District 22 Legislators.

Public forums to update citizens on legislative activities will be held in the coming weeks. The first public forum is scheduled for Feb. 2 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the West Fargo City Commission Chambers, 800 4th Ave. E. A second public forum is scheduled for Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. in Casselton. Take the opportunity to hear firsthand the status of key legislative initiatives.