“The North Dakota House of Representatives is adjourned, sine die,” Speaker of the House Kim Koppelman said before gaveling out the 67th legislative session at 12:17 a.m. Friday. The Senate adjourned shortly after.
Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, who’s held a seat in the legislature since 1991, says it was a challenging session with COVID protocols, but overall he’s happy with how it went.
“It seems like everything went very well. We were able to step up and meet those challenges and move on,” Wardner said.
Wardner noted the passage of three bills using the legacy fund to improve infrastructure in the state. Using those earnings is something he’d like to see in the future, too.
“As we go forward I think we can take a look at replacing income tax, property tax, with some of the legacy earning, which is going to be a huge benefit for North Dakota,” Wardner said.
Despite being outnumbered 120 to 21 in the legislature, the Dem-NPL still found ways to accomplish policy goals — like helping working families, according to Dem-NPL Executive Director Michael Taylor.
“Rep. Zach Ista with his bill to help fallen heroes, and I know Rep. Karla Rose Hanson expanded coverage for things like continuous glucose monitors,” Taylor said.
Taylor says the party hopes to continue bringing forward legislation for paid family leave, which started as a bill, turned into a study, and eventually failed to pass.
“As we look toward the pandemic, we have a workforce development crisis, recruiting people here is tough, that to me is one thing that would bring individuals, families, especially young ones, in.”
It’s not the last time lawmakers will see each other this year. They’re expected to meet in the coming months to address redistricting, and how to allocate federal COVID relief money.
“We do have one billion dollars from the feds laying there. We did not appropriate it. As we go into the interim and this summer, there’s a good chance the appropriations committee will come back and work on the money coming from the feds,” Wardner said.
In total, the legislature added about 500 new laws over the past four months. The 68th assembly will meet in January of 2023.