Lawmakers to choose study topics that may inspire bills

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Less than a month after the North Dakota Legislature adjourned, a group of lawmakers will return to the Capitol next week to decide study topics that may result in legislation for the 2023 session.

The Legislative Management committee, a 17-member panel of lawmakers that supervises business between sessions, will meet May 19 to select the topics the Legislature will study during the next 18 months. The committee will meet again on June 9 to assign the subjects to study committees.

Each of the Legislature’s 141 members will be surveyed on committee preferences.

Legislative Management also will choose a legislative committee that will study redistricting plans this summer, its chairman, Grand Forks Republican Sen. Ray Holmberg, said Wednesday. The Legislature is expected to meet again this fall to approve a proposal to redraw the state’s political map.

The redistricting plan is one of a dozen mandatory studies from legislation passed before adjournment. Other required studies include a review of the Public Employees Retirement System, access to private and public land for hunters, higher education affordability, prescription drug pricing, state agency fees, and “potential uses” of earnings from the Legacy Fund, the voter-approved oil tax savings account.

Another 72 studies are considered optional. Holmberg estimated that at least half of those studies will be assigned to committees.

The panel has 13 Republicans and four Democrats, and includes the floor leaders of both parties. Republicans have two-thirds majorities in both the North Dakota House and Senate, and they control the study and committee selection process.

Bismarck Democratic Sen. Erin Oban said study priorities for her party include “areas of health and wellness, issues that impact youth and families, education and workforce, infrastructure and responsible government.”

Holmberg, who has been in the Senate for 45 years, has headed Legislative Management four times during his tenure. Committee vice-chairman and Republican House Majority Leader Chet Pollert headed the group during the last interim.

North Dakota is one of four states where the Legislature meets every other year.

Holmberg said he will recommend that Democrats head some of the committees, as he has done in the past.

The committee chairman also may assign additional studies during the interim.

Each committee will compile a report and any suggested legislation prior to the 2023 session.