North Dakota lawmakers approve 50 topics to study in interim

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This past session, North Dakota lawmakers passed bills that included optional studies to be researched between legislative sessions. But not all of those studies move forward.

A panel of 17 legislators decided Wednesday which ones to keep, and which ones will just have to be reintroduced in 2023, during the next session.

Lawmakers gave the green light to 50 of those optional studies, nixed 22 of them and will be required to study 13 more. Among those that passed include — studying K-12 school funding, gambling addiction, and the space needs of state agencies, considering the uptick in remote work.

Sen. Ray Holmberg chairs that group and says behavioral health will also be a priority for the next session.

“We need to take a look obviously at some of the behavioral health issues, which cut across many different agencies, whether you’re talking about juveniles, education, corrections, obviously. So we’re going to do that. And I think continuing our studies in elementary and secondary education are important,” Holmberg said.

Lawmakers who met today, known as legislative management, will meet again in June to decide committee membership, and which studies will go to which committee. The group also discussed in-person requirements for the next legislative session, and whether lawmaker pay should change based on remote participation.

“I think we should be here in person, except as representative Boschee says, life does happen, but we want to make sure that the legislative process has people in the room,” Holmberg said.

Committees will conduct those approved studies and provide reports on their findings in September or October of 2022. The topics studied could then potentially become laws in the 2023 session.

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