Rep. Kim Koppelman
You may have heard that our prisons and jails are full. That's largely true. The questions are "Why?" and "What (if anything) can we do about it?" The answers are complex and require a great deal of information, analysis and, ultimately, important public policy decisions. Two of the interim committees upon which I serve are involved with related issues which will likely be the topic of considerable attention during the next legislative session, beginning in January.
One of the most important functions of state government is passing and enforcing the laws that keep us all safe. Crafting laws against criminal activity is the job of the Legislature. When that is complete, enforcing them becomes the job of law enforcement officials, while prosecuting them and determining guilt occurs in the judicial branch of government. These laws stem from bills introduced, often amended and passed in the Legislature. The Judiciary Committee, which I chair, is the setting where much of this work takes shape.
There is an old saying that "those who like laws and sausage shouldn't watch either being made." These words never ring more true than in the closing days of a Legislative session. Each session's final weeks are marked by final work and rapid changes in various pieces of legislation. If one only watches a midstream development, here or there, misunderstandings can often result. Two excellent examples of this were recently apparent.
The North Dakota legislative session is well into its second phase, during which each chamber considers bills that have passed the other, and is rapidly moving toward its final phase, which is dominated by conference committees, where legislators work to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of various bills. The session has moved along well and has been relatively low-key, without any dominant issues. Perhaps the most defining factor has been more fiscal caution, due to the drop in oil prices.
One of the pillars of our American system of justice is that, when charged with a crime, everyone is entitled to a defense. Of course, when one can afford it,...
It’s that time of year which many dread—tax time! Both property taxes and income taxes will soon be due. While we may lament the ever increasing tax and regulatory burden those in Washington, DC saddle us with, there is good news here in North Dakota—Taxes (both property and income taxes) are going down! During last year’s North Dakota Legislative Session, we were able to once again reduce the income tax burden of our citizens and also to increase the subsidy to local school districts, with the requirement that they further lower your property taxes.