Our state lawmakers have a lot to get done, and they only have 80 days to do it all. Today, legislative management met to hear the progress all the committee’s have made in the interim.
Lawmakers cranked out some big bills in 2017. One of the most notable being the justice reinvestment bill. They’ve also had to hammer out details on initiated measures, like Marsy’s Law. But it’s what senators and representatives want to see happen with these pieces of legislation that may surprise you.
We asked Sen. David Hogue if he thought Marsy’s law offers any additional benefits to victims.
David Hogue: “Uhh, I don’t. I don’t.”
Senator David Hogue, the Judiciary Committee Chairman says the law has cause more problems than assistance.
Something worth reconsidering in January.
David Hogue: “It’s administrative burdens that are difficult to assess their costs, but they’re definitely there.”
The Higher Ed committee came bearing good news.
Mark Sanford; Grand Forks: “We have low costs, we have pretty high attendance, we have some challenges with graduation rates. For the most part, in terms of cost, and scholarships and these kinds of things, good things are happening here.”
Rep. Sanford said he wants to re-evaluate the funding formula, to ensure it properly reflects the university class costs.
Last session’s justice reinvestment bill reduced 1st offender possession charges from felony to misdemeanor.
Rep. Kim Koppelman says although recreational marijuana failed in North Dakota, making marijuana penalties match the crime is something he wants to see happen.
Rep. Kim Koppelman: “But the difference in someone’s life, from being branded a felon, to not, in terms of getting on with their lives and getting back into society and being a productive member of society is immense. That’s where we have to be smart and take a closer look at some of these things.”
Koppelman wants his committee to take another look at reducing drug possession charges, and increase resources to help addicts, instead of jailing them.
Once the session begins there will be some big changes made to how lobbyists and legislators interact. The Senate Majority and Minority leader have the next 6 weeks to work alongside the governor in choosing the members of the ethics commission. The new commission is a requirement of measure one; which provides more transparency in where donations come from. The legislative body will be able to make any changes they want to the initiated measure that was voted in. They just need a two thirds vote.
This just barely scratches the surface of what we can expect, starting in January.
Tomorrow lawmakers will meet again to go through the 8 remaining committee’s reports.