COVID may just increase transparency

Capitol Views

 

 

The legislative assembly has completed week three of the 67th assembly. This session House members have introduced 500 bills and 17 resolutions for consideration. That compares to 545 bills and 31 resolutions that were introduced in the last session. Senators have introduced 288 bills and 9 resolutions at this point compared to last session when they had 359 bills and 8 resolutions. Senators have until 5:00 Monday, January 25th to introduce bills. All bills and resolutions are reviewed by the respective committees and have a vote on the floor. The crossover date for all bills is Friday, February 26th.

COVID has changed the way things are done this session. These changes have opened up the transparency of the legislative process but unfortunately have limited the in person interactions with people. One thing that is missed is the groups that used to visit the Capital during the session. Schools used to bring groups of students to tour the capital, sit in on committee meetings and sit in on the floor sessions. Their excitement and enthusiasm during their visits was contagious. Also missed are the groups of people who would come to the capital to express their organizations stand on specific bills brought before the legislature.

While the in-person visits are missed people still have the opportunity to attend committee hearings and floor sessions. All committee meetings are now presented live on the internet and recordings of these meetings are also available. One way to attend virtually is to Google 67th Legislative Assembly ND, click on 67th Regular Assembly and then on the bar on the upper portion of the page click on video. A menu showing the committee hearings, their times and the floor sessions will appear. Click on the committee hearing you would like to attend, and the live session will pop up. If there is a meeting that you missed, you can click on recordings and select the meeting you would like to hear. I find this very beneficial because I am not able to attend all committee meetings. As an example, I like to keep up on the happenings of the Appropriations Committee and the information they receive regarding revenues. I was able to listen to Lynn Helms, Director of the Department of Mineral Resources presentation on the status of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota and the effects actions throughout the world have on North Dakota.

Obviously, the anticipated revenues for the State are a driving issue during this session. The Legislature will be scrutinizing all bills to see what affects a particular bill will have on the budget and what will be necessary to develop a balanced budget. The Legislature is up to the challenge.

If you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact us at dlongmuir@ nd.gov, bertanderson@nd.gov or drust@nd.gov.

(Editor’s Note: Space for Capitol Views columns are provided by this newspaper as a public service.)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.