Article by, Andi Lefor (Assistant to the Senate Majority Leader)
As we near the fiftieth day of the legislative session, the Senate Appropriations Committee continues to do diligent work to make cuts and find efficiencies in the budget so that they can put together a solid plan for the 2017-19 biennium. The policy committees continue to review bills passed by the House and make recommendations to send to the floor.
The Senate unanimously passed HB 1171 this week, extending free tuition to stepchildren of firefighters or peace officers who die in the line of duty. Current law ensures that the state will pay for biological children, and this seemed like an omission that needed to be corrected.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard seven bills relating to guns on Tuesday. The Fort Lincoln room was full of those giving testimony on either side of the issues. Among them was HB 1169, the “constitutional carry” bill that allows a person with a Class 2 firearms license to carry a concealed weapon with his driver’s license rather than requiring a permit.
The Committee also heard HB 1310, a bill that creates a pilot project for ten schools across the state to have an armed first responder in the building. The bill’s intention is to help rural schools for whom law enforcement response times could be too long.
The Judiciary Committee also examined HB 1041, a criminal justice reform bill that aims at sending low-risk felons charged with drug offenses to treatment rather than to prison. This bill aims at decreasing prison populations and preventing recidivism.
A bill that would change the requirements for reporting oil spills was heard this week. HB 1151, introduced in front of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, would ensure that our state has more accurate information about the effect of the oil & gas industry on the environment; the current process inflates the numbers, distorting the true picture.
As the end of the session nears, the Senate is finishing hearings on House bills and will soon begin convening in conference committees to resolve differences between bills passed in both the House and the Senate.
*This summary was provided by Andi Lefor. Lefor serves as the Assistant to the Senate Majority Leader in the North Dakota Legislature.
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- Sen. Jordan Kannianen: Legislative Update
- Representative Bert Anderson: Legislative Update
- North Dakota House of Representatives: Weekly update