The Legislature has begun the conference committee process whereby bills that passed one chamber — House or Senate — and were subsequently amended and passed by the other chamber. They are then discussed by a committee with three members from each chamber to further amend or leave the bill as is, followed by final action taken on the bill.
As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Alternatively, each chamber may concur with the amendments from the other chamber and pass the bill, which avoids the conference committee process. Members of conference committees are two who voted in favor of the bill and one against from each chamber. This is just one of the many checks and balances that exist in our republican form of government guaranteed to each state by Article IV Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. I shared the importance of these checks and balances with students during a recent visit here.
Another check and balance is the power of the governor to veto bills. Gov. Doug Burgum recently did so to Senate Bill 2244, which would have increased drivers license fees. While the Senate overturned the veto, the House upheld it. I agreed with the governor that it “imposes an unnecessary additional burden on our residents” and voted no on the bill a second time. With House Bill 1544, I had attempted to further reduce this burden through the use of electronic drivers licenses and unlimited online renewal if the information on the face of the license remained the same.
The governor should be commended for urging local leaders to invest dollars in existing infrastructure to limit the growth of property taxes. He was referring to the distribution of a portion of oil and gas tax revenue to political subdivisions with House Bill 1066. I hope elected city, township and county officials take heed and not put local taxpayers on the hook for millions more in bonded debt like the big three oil country cities — Williston, Minot and Dickinson — despite additional funding by the state.