Legislative Report District 13: Legislature grapples with several issues
By Rep. Kim Koppelman
The 2013 North Dakota Legislative Session is well underway and many important issues are coming to the forefront. Some are taking shape in the House, while the Senate grapples with others.
As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I can report that the workload is demanding, but that members of the committee are navigating the demands well. The Constitutional Revision Committee, which I’ve chaired for several years, was merged into the Judiciary Committee this year, creating a combined workload greater than either panel had dealt with in prior years.
Work on bills will be completed in the next two weeks, as deadlines approach, but Constitutional Amendment Resolutions are still being introduced and those deadlines for committee action are significantly later. This creates two significant waves of activity for the committee.
The largest volume of bills relate to preserving our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. They take various approaches to ensuring those rights and limiting restrictions on them, primarily in the area of concealed weapons.
Notably, the bills we’re dealing with only focus upon strengthening or preserving Second Amendment rights, not undermining them.
This places North Dakota in a much different position than other states, where “gun control” bills--those diminishing or restricting Second Amendment rights--are the norm. There were two gun control bills which would have significantly restricted those rights, but they were promptly withdrawn by the sponsor, shortly after introduction, presumably due to a large outcry of citizen opposition.
The House defeated a bill which would have earmarked some school funding for a narrow purpose, rather than allowing schools the freedom to spend the dollars the state sends them as they choose, best meeting their varying needs.
The committee has begun hearings on some of the constitutional amendments proposed, but has taken no action. One would lower property taxes by removing the one mill levy which goes to the Medical School at UND, allowing the legislature to fund the school through normal appropriations, rather than your property taxes. The other would remove the names and missions of the nine institutions of higher education from the constitution to allow for more flexibility in modernizing the University System in North Dakota.
Bills the committee deals with, if passed by both the House and Senate, become law, if not vetoed by the governor, or if a veto is overridden. Resolutions to amend the constitution, however, if passed by both chambers, bypass the governor’s desk and go directly to the voters in a future election.
Your District 13 Legislators appreciate hearing from you. You may reach us by email, during the Session, as follows: Rep. Alon Wieland (email@example.com); Rep. Kim Koppelman (firstname.lastname@example.org); Sen. Judy Lee (email@example.com; 282-6512).