Week 14 • Senator Phil Murphy
Week 14 Legislative Report – Senator Murphy-63rd Legislative Session
We are now full swing into that part of the session whereby bills that are about the same thing but somewhat different because of amendments are reconciled. Or not. This is a different game which can pit partisan differences but is usually a struggle between the Senate versus the House version of the bill. Because we are mostly done with standing committees (Transportation, Education, etc.) we have been going into floor session at eight a.m. for about an hour and then hammering out to attend any conference committees to which we have been assigned. Yesterday in one of mine, the three Senators versus the three Representatives met on a bill (HCR 3016) and we were done in 5 minutes because when I explained that the oil industry had asked for the troubling amendment, the House side acceded to our view and now the bill will have to pass the House to be sent to the Governor.
Up a bit on the complexity scale, another one, 2129, is about automatic door openers for public buildings. The sponsor of the bill is an architect and a member of our Industry, Business and Labor committee which dealt with this issue. However, the chairman of IBL did not appoint him to the bill. Given his expertise and interest, one would assume he would have made the conference committee, but political maneuvering by our chairman could be suspected because said chair had voted against the bill in committee. When the bill got to the Senate floor the first time, we overturned the recommendation and passed it out to the House where it picked up some amendments that have confused the attorneys. Now we will meet for the third time and try to pick out what matters the most, reach agreement and get this bill moving for signature. Also today is my conference committee on the issue of pain (1163) being used to diagnose compensable injury. That one will also be highly problematic as I perceive the discussion to be medical in nature yet unavoidably needs to be legislated. We are the lawmakers, but not medical attorneys nor could we find one to testify. When I am sick or injured and want to heal, I consult a doctor, not a lawyer. Therefore, I lean towards trusting the doctor’s view of pain legislation, but the majority I am afraid are taking the lawyers interpretation.
On the brighter front, there have been some victories this session. My initiative on Early Childhood Education (or Pre-K) has passed both houses in the form of 2229 and 1429, so for the first time in our state’s history, local school districts can use some levy money to legitimately fund this program. If parents want to contact their superintendents in the coming months in this regard, the district may well decide to start it.
Also, an idea that I had taken the reins on was to bring North Dakota to a level with the rest of the country concerning mandatory reporting when one knows that a vulnerable adult is being abused or neglected. It just passed in amended form on the floor of the Senate when we concurred with the House. It is bill # 2323 and we will have to build on this to ensure the safety of our elderly in the years ahead.