Legislative

North Dakota’s 62nd Legislative Assembly

62nd Legislative Assembly

The 62nd Legislative Assembly will consist of a Senate with 47 senators and a House of Representatives with 94 representatives. The 62nd Legislative Assembly will organize December 6-8, 2010, and will convene in regular session Tuesday, January 4, 2011.

Generally, the senators from odd-numbered districts will be elected to four-year terms at the 2010 general election and the senators from even-numbered districts were elected to four-year terms at the November 2008 general election.

Two representatives are elected from each of 47 senatorial districts. Generally, the representatives from odd-numbered districts will be elected to four-year terms at the 2010 general election and the representatives from even-numbered districts were elected to four-year terms at the November 2008 general election.

During th 62nd Legislative Assembly, it is imperative that as members of NDSPLS we show our support of the bills that concern our society.

Things to remember during the session:

How To Contact Legislative Entities

The Legislative Council can be reached by:

E-mail: lcouncil@nd.gov
Phone: 701-328-2916
TTY: 1-800-366-6888
Fax: 701-328-3615

Legislative Council
State Capitol
600 East Boulevard
Bismarck, ND 58505-0360

During a legislative session, a legislator can be reached at the State Capitol through e-mail or by leaving a message with the legislative telephone message center at 1-888-NDLEGIS (635-3447). Otherwise, a legislator can be reached by mail, telephone, or e-mail at the address listed in the legislator’s bio under Legislative Assembly.

Tips on Leaving Messages – Try to be as brief as possible. When phoning or faxing, leave your name, phone number, bill number, and position on bill. When e-mailing, put the bill number and position in the “Subject Line.” Example — “Support Bill #….” – Use the body of the message for additional information if needed.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Between the conclusion of the organizational session and the regular session (usually from December 10 through December 24), a legislator may prefile a bill with the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council staff numbers the bill and has the bill printed so that copies are available when the Legislative Assembly convenes in regular session. These prefiled bills are technically introduced on the first day of the regular session, even though they have received numbers, have been printed, and have been referred to the appropriate standing committees by the Lieutenant Governor (for Senate measures) or the Speaker of the House (for House measures).

During a legislative session, a legislator can deliver a bill to the bill clerk of the appropriate house any time during the day. If the bill has not been prepared by the Legislative Council staff, the bill is delivered to the Legislative Council staff for a review to determine if the bill complies with the form and style requirements for bills. The Legislative Council staff prepares the bill in accordance with the requirements, then returns the form and style bill to the bill clerk. Every bill received by the bill clerk before the deadline set for that day is numbered by the clerk and is introduced during the Ninth Order of Business (the order for introducing bills of that house). Upon introduction, the bill’s title is read by the Secretary of the Senate or Chief Clerk of the House. This is known as the First Reading.

Once a bill receives its first reading, this procedure is followed:

  1. The presiding officer refers the bill to a standing committee with the appropriate subject matter jurisdiction over the bill, e.g., a bill relating to game and fish licenses would be referred to the Natural Resources Committee. The committee chairman schedules a public hearing on the bill. By custom every bill referred to committee is scheduled for public hearing.
  2. After public hearing the committee must report the bill back to the floor for a vote. The legislative rules require every bill referred to committee to be reported back to the floor for a vote. A committee report is received during the Fifth Order of Business. A committee must make one or more of the following recommendations with respect to a bill: do pass, do not pass, be amended, be referred to another committee, or be placed on the calendar without recommendation.
  3. Every bill reported from committee is placed on the calendar for consideration during the Eleventh Order of Business (the order for Second Reading, when measures are voted on for final passage) the next day. If the recommendation is for amendment, the amendment is voted on first under the Sixth Order of Business (when amendments are considered), rather than final passage, and then the amended bill is voted on the day following the day of the vote on the amendment. For example, a bill is reported back on Wednesday (during the Fifth Order), the amendment is voted on Thursday (during the Sixth Order), and the vote on final passage is on Friday (during the Eleventh Order). If the bill passes, it is messaged (delivered) to the other house, where a similar procedure is followed. If the bill is amended in the other house, it is returned to the house of origin for concurrence. If the house of origin does not concur, the presiding officer of each house appoints three members to a six-member conference committee to resolve differences. The house of origin votes on the conference committee report first, then the other house votes on the conference committee report.
  4. Once a bill has passed both houses in exactly the same form, it is enrolled (retyped with all amendments in place) by the Legislative Council staff, signed by the presiding officer of each house, and delivered to the Governor for approval.
  5. The Governor may sign a bill and forward it to the Secretary of State, forward a bill to the Secretary of State without signature, or veto a bill or items in a bill. While the Legislative Assembly is in session, a bill becomes law if the Governor neither signs nor vetoes it within three legislative days after its delivery to the Governor. If the Legislative Assembly is not in session, a bill becomes law if the Governor neither signs nor vetoes it within 15 days, Saturdays and Sundays excepted, after its delivery to the Governor. If the Governor vetoes a bill while the Legislative Assembly is in session, the Governor must return the bill to the house of origin for a vote on whether to sustain (agree with) the veto. If the house of origin passes the bill by a two-thirds vote of the members-elect, the bill is sent to the other house and if that house passes the bill by a two-thirds vote of the members-elect, the veto is overridden and the bill is delivered to the Secretary of State.

A law usually takes effect on August 1 after its filing with the Secretary of State. An appropriation measure for the support and maintenance of state departments and institutions or a tax measure that changes tax rates takes effect on July 1 after its filing with the Secretary of State. Later effective dates can be specified in a bill, and a law that is declared an emergency measure and which passes each house by a vote of two-thirds of the members-elect of each house can take effect upon its filing with the Secretary of State.

How to Testify Before a North Dakota Legislative Committee

You have the right, as do all citizens, to testify before the North Dakota Legislative Assembly on any bill or resolution.

North Dakota has one of the most open legislatures in the nation. Every bill must have a public hearing before a legislative committee, must be publicly voted upon by the committee, and then must come before the full House or Senate for still another public vote.

Your opportunity to testify on a bill comes at the committee hearing.

Legislative committees meet in rooms on the ground floor or in the legislative wing of the State Capitol. You can come into a committee meeting at any time, even if the door is closed or a hearing is in progress.

Lists of the legislative committees, committee members, and the days and places committees meet are available at the Legislative Information Kiosk in the hall between the Senate and House chambers.

You can find out which committee will be hearing the bill in which you are interested by calling the toll-free number and asking for information or inquiring in person at the Legislative Information Kiosk. Also, most of the state’s daily newspapers carry listings of all the bills that are introduced and of scheduled committee hearings.

In addition to checking with the Legislative Information Kiosk, you can find out what bills are being heard by what committees by reviewing the TV monitors on the kiosk and in the hall of the ground floor of the Capitol. All committee hearings are listed on these monitors weekly.

You can get copies of bills from the Bill and Journal Room. However, if the bill has been amended, the printed bill may not include the amendments.

Hearings Before North Dakota Legislative Committees Are Generally Informal and Few Rules Need Be Observed!

Before the Hearing You Should…

  • Find out when and where your bill will be heard. Be on time for the hearing. Usually, once a hearing is closed on a particular bill, no further testimony is heard.
  • Plan your testimony. It is not necessary, but it is helpful, to have written copies of your comments available.
  • See if other persons will be testifying on your bill. If so, try to coordinate your testimony before the hearing to avoid duplication.
  • Contact the Secretary of State’s office if you are going to testify on behalf of anyone but yourself, to see if you must register as a lobbyist.

At the Hearing You Should…

  • Be present at the start of the hearing. All persons present usually get a chance to speak, but sometimes, because of large turnouts, it is not possible to give everyone a chance to speak. If you do not get a chance to testify, your presence may be acknowledged and you might be asked if you favor or oppose the bill. And, you can always submit written testimony.
  • Sign the witness sheet at the lectern. Give the bill number, whether you favor or oppose the bill, your name, your lobbyist registration number if you have one, and who you represent if other than yourself.
  • Wait your turn. The chairman announces the beginning of the hearing on a particular bill. The clerk will read the bill. The first speaker is usually the bill’s sponsor. The chairman then asks for testimony, first from proponents and then opponents.
  • Plan on following the custom (although it is not absolutely necessary) of beginning your remarks by addressing the chairman and committee members, giving your name and address, and why you are there. For example: “Mr. or Madam Chairman, and members of the committee, my name is John Q. Public from Edwinton. I’m in favor of this bill because, etc.”
  • Be brief. Do not repeat what others have said. The hearings are informal, so be conversational. Avoid being too technical. Avoid using acronyms or technical references unless you first explain what they mean.
  • Do not be nervous, or worried about doing something wrong. There are no “rights and wrongs” about testifying. Legislators are just your friends and neighbors who want to hear what you have to say.
  • Expect some questions and comments from committee members. These questions are not designed to embarrass you, but merely to provide additional information.
  • Avoid any clapping, cheering, booing, or other demonstrations.

After the Hearing…

  • Some committees vote right after a hearing. Others wait until the end of the meeting. Some postpone voting until another meeting.
  • All committee action is public, so you can stay to listen to committee debate and its vote, even though the public comment portion of the hearing is over.
  • One or two days later you can check with the committee clerk, your legislator, or the Legislative Information Kiosk to find out how the committee voted on your bill.

You have a right to testify on any bill before a legislative committee. Legislators want to hear what you have to say.

LEGISLATIVE LINKS

The following links may be useful in obtaining information during the session.

http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/60-2007/leginfo/index.html – contains information on bills, resolutions and journals for each chamber

http://www.state.nd.us/lr/assembly/58-2003/hearsched/daily-hear/ – contains a schedule of hearings for committees in each chamber

http://www.state.nd.us/lr/assesmbly/58-2003/bill_text/house-bill.html#BILL – a listing of the House Bills for the 58th Assembly

http://www.state.nd.us/lr/assembly/58-2003/billl_text/senate-bill.html#BILL – a listing of the Senate Bills for the 58th Assembly