BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) —Legislators are in Bismarck this week for a three-day organizational session to prepare for the 2023 legislative session. With that comes a change in demographics.

There is a new crop of young legislators with five under the age of 25.

This is not the first session for 24-year-old Cole Christiansen of Rogers, ND. He first served during the 2021 regular legislative session, so he is helping his young colleagues with procedural knowledge and etiquette.

“Teaching them what I know from a young person’s perspective and how to navigate the system to earn the colleague’s respect, especially coming into it, you know, these guys are three times our age. And, so there’s a big communication gap, and we have to work with them to bridge that,” explained (R) Rogers Rep. Cole Christiansen.

21-year-old Matt Heilman is newly elected to the State House of Representatives. Heilman says he is working on a piece of legislation called “Defend the Guard.” The law would prohibit North Dakota Guardsmen to serve in unconstitutional conflicts overseas, such as the war in Ukraine.

Heilman says he’s aiming to submit five bill drafts by mid-December and says overall he is just humble and grateful to be serving the state with his fellow lawmakers.

“It’s a real honor and you really take in how long they have been here and the effort and the time and the commitment they have made over the decades, and it makes you really appreciate the time they put in even before I was born. So, it really puts it in perspective,” said (R) Bismarck Rep. Matt Heilman.

There are two newly elected Native American legislators joining the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Lisa Finley-Deville (D) Fort Berthold

They are Lisa Finley-DeVille of Fort Berthold who is a member of MHA Nation, and Jayme Davis of Rolette who is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

Davis’ father was the president of Turtle Mountain Community College, so she says she’s driven to improve education. Davis is also vying for committee assignments on Health and Human Services and the Judiciary Committee.

“Looking to codify ICWA which is the Indian Child Welfare Act as one of my first bills,” explained (D) Rolette Rep. Jayme Davis. “I am just excited to get going. I know it’s not technically started, but we get our bills going in December here. And, get started in January,” Davis said.

The three-day organizational session ends Wednesday. KX News will be bringing you the coverage of Governor Doug Burgam’s joint-session biennium budget plan address. It begins at 10 a.m.