Local News

Senator David S. Rust: Legislative Update

Article by Senator David S. Rust,

I’ve received more than just one e-mail from individuals who are frustrated with the time that legislators waste on “frivolous” or “insignificant” items.  One of those bills dealt with daylight savings time and the other with an eighty miles per hour speed limit on interstate highways.  Let me explain the law making process.

In Congress the majority leader can take a bill, put it in his desk, and never let the Senate vote on it.  That doesn’t happen in ND.  Any and every Senator or Representative can propose a bill;  most of us average three to four bills, some more, some less.  EVERY bill–regardless of how ridiculous it is–MUST be assigned to a committee, MUST GET a hearing, and MUST BE VOTED UPON in one of the houses.  If it passes, it goes to the other house and the process starts over again.  That guarantees that leadership or committee chairmen can NOT put a good idea in his or her desk and it’s never seen again.

I don’t know how much time you think we spent on “daylight savings” time.  The bill was assigned to one of my committees.  We (a total of six senators) spent less than an hour on it in committee for a hearing and discussion.  It was given a “Do NOT Pass” recommendation.  The bill was brought to the floor of the Senate.  A total of 47 senators listened for a total of one minute and twenty seconds to the explanation of the bill and the committee recommendation.  It was defeated with no debate on a 11 (yes)-33 (no), 3 (absent) vote.  It was a done deal.  That’s all—took less than an hour for everything.  From the stories in the media you probably thought we spent days on the bill.  Incidentally, none of the 94 House members spent any time on the bill.

The bill dealing with medical marijuana is getting a lot of hype and attention.  It is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  They are trying to fix a medical marijuana initiated measure that was poorly written with no guidance on how to implement it.  The committee’s first draft eliminated the “smoking” of marijuana.

Since the measure stated that a qualified patient could be dispensed up to three ounces of usable marijuana and could grow marijuana if his or her home was more than forty miles from the nearest registered facility, I believe the vast majority of individuals who voted knew that meant you could smoke it.  Since nearly 64% approved the measure, the Legislature should respect the “will of the people” and pass a bill with those provisions in it.  That bill will go through a lot of changes before it gets passed or defeated. But, the people have spoken and, like it or not, the Legislature should act accordingly.

The bill that will in effect make all private lands posted for hunting purposes is still in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. A “pilot project” amendment so hunters could identify posted and unposted land through the Game and Fish website is in the works.  We have until Thursday to pass or defeat that bill.

The bill that advocated getting us out of Common Core was defeated in the House.  For the record, the state has used the same process for years for writing standards for elementary and secondary students.  The Superintendent of Public Instruction does a call for applicants to serve on committees for math and language arts standards; that call for applicants is placed in newspapers and on their web-site for all to see.  About sixty–mostly teachers (thirty in math, thirty in language arts)–from across the state are selected.  They do a First Draft, take public comment, do a Second Draft, take public comment, and make a recommendation to the Superintendent.  She makes the final decision.  The next step is a Request For Proposals from test developers to draw up the state assessment for students in grades three through eight and grade eleven.  The state is currently engaged in this process. Those new North Dakota Standards should go into effect next year, if all goes as planned.  That should get us out of Common Core.

Again, it’s a privilege to represent District 2 in Bismarck.  I appreciate all of your input.  I try to get back to all who contact me; however, time doesn’t always work in my favor.  My contact is drust@nd.gov.

This article was written by District 2 Senator David S. Rust. Rust served in the House from 2009-2014, he is currently serving in the Senate.. Rust serves as vice-chairman of the Education Committee, he also serves on the Transportation Committee.


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