North Dakota lawmakers on Tuesday chose 46 study topics that could inspire bills for the next legislative session.
The Legislative Management committee voted to conduct the studies on topics that include a review of the state’s prison system, access to private and public land for hunters, protection of citizens’ personal data, education funding, ethics requirements and “potential uses” of earnings from the Legacy Fund, the voter-approved oil tax savings account.
The 17-member Legislative Management committee, which includes Senate and House floor leaders from both parties, oversees the Legislature’s business between sessions.
North Dakota is one of four states where the Legislature meets every other year.
The powerful panel rejected 21 proposed studies from the legislative session that ended last month. Fifteen of the studies were mandatory from legislation passed before adjournment.
The total number of studies that were considered was among the highest in at least 30 years, said John Bjornson, director of the Legislative Council, the Legislature’s nonpartisan research arm.
Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner said studies are valuable to set the foundation for policy ideas for 2021 and beyond.
“It’s important because it lays the groundwork for the next session and the future,” Wardner said. “But we can’t do them all.”
The panel rejected studies on everything from the benefits of state parks to inconsistencies of traffic fines imposed by local governments.
Democratic House Minority Leader Josh Boschee said the panel “missed an opportunity” when it rejected a review of government assistance and how it could “impede or improve low-income workers’ ability to earn more income.”
Legislative Management will meet again on June 10 to pick the membership of the interim study committees.
Republican House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, the new chairman of Legislative Management, said he will recommend that Democrats head some of the committees.
The committee chairman may also assign additional studies during the interim.