Week 13 Legislative Update, Senator Murphy
Things are becoming unstructured now that we have hit April. What I mean is that the Ground Hog Day regularity of committee meetings at nine and going into floor session at one every day like we pretty much did for 56 days or so in a row is breaking down. Of the eleven standing committees, most have heard testimony and recommended pass or fail on the bills assigned to them. Ag committee finished last week and we in Senate IB&L will hear our last in about half an hour. That is the demutualization of Nodak Mutual Insurance which is asking the Legislature for permission to become a publicly traded stock insurance company. Their story is that they want to be able to raise enough capital to expand should the chance to buy another insurance company present itself. Committee members are trying to balance that request with protecting current policy holders.
As I was saying, this is the time of the session when lawmaker’s schedules float around from intense activity to having an hour of nothing, then suddenly comes a vote on a hotly contested issue, then another, etc.. For instance, today we vote on electronic quick shot bingo; the issue for our Native gaming is that this liberalizes gaming laws and they fear that it will bring further encroachment into their turf. The other side is that this form of bingo is a large tool for funding handicapped housing in Grand Forks and ND Association for the Disabled in Fargo. They are putting pressure on us to vote for the bill, the native population to not.
I am on a subcommittee in Energy and Natural Resources tasked with acting on four bills that all deal with conceal and carry handgun permits and trying to clarify where permit holders can carry or not. I voted against guns in schools last week as predicted in another column a month or two ago and our Senate body defeated it. We are working to restore the funding formula for Higher Education that was torn apart in the House and who knows how that will turn out? It bothers me that some of my fellow legislators want to micromanage every agency: Just this week I carried a bill urging its defeat because it was going to make the Industrial Commission get approval from the Legislature for its Department of Mineral Resources when they act on regulating the oil and gas industry. It would have paralyzed them because of several factors including time and manpower.