North Dakota House Report
The 2013 regular session of the North Dakota legislature has entered its final weeks. All of the bills have been passed, amended or defeated by each of the houses, and most of the remaining bills have been amended by either house so that the differences in the bills will be worked out in conference committees.
Conference committees are made up of three members from each house who try to compromise the differences in a bill. Sometimes this takes a single meeting, and sometimes it takes several meetings when the conferees cannot agree. Conference committees are not a joint committee but are separate committees from each house attempting to work out the differences in a bill. Two members from each house must agree upon a solution before a conference agreement is reached. Then, the conference committee report goes to each house for approval or rejection.
For a bill to become law, each house of the legislature must pass identical versions of the bill before it can be sent to the Governor.
This session there are a number of bills that would put stricter requirements on abortion procedures in North Dakota. The main purpose is to eliminate abortion procedures in North Dakota. Some of these bills have been passed into law and signed by the Governor. When they become law on August 1, 2013, there will very probably be court challenges to their constitutionality. The courts will determine whether those laws can be enforced. There is a resolution that has passed the legislature that will be on the ballot in November of 2014 that, if passed, will place a life protection amendment into the state constitution. I am sure we will be hearing much about that resolution as the election comes closer.
The legislature is still working on stronger penalties for DUI violations, and some changes in North Dakota’s law regarding concealed weapons. There are no bills in the legislature that would change any of North Dakota current laws on guns. We still will be able to purchase and own guns for hunting and recreational use.
The major funding bills for foundation aid education, higher education, human services and property tax reduction and reform are still to be worked on and passed. This will take the next three to four weeks, so we probably will be running up against our 80-day deadline. With good hard work, we should make it by the deadline.