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North Dakota panel picks study topics ahead of next session

BISMARCK (AP) — A panel of North Dakota lawmakers on Wednesday chose study topics that are likely to inspire legislation for the 2023 session.

The Republican-led Legislative Management committee, a 17-member panel of lawmakers that oversees business between sessions, chose 50 studies, including school funding, state employee compensation, health care, gambling addiction — and even the shortage of firearms and ammunition in the state.

Twenty-two studies were not chosen.

The panel has 13 Republicans and four Democrats, and includes the floor leaders of both parties. Republicans have two-thirds majorities in both the North Dakota House and Senate, and they control the study and committee selection process.

Each of the Legislature’s 141 members will be surveyed on committee preferences. Legislative Management will meet again on June 9 to assign the subjects to study committees.

Its chairman, Grand Forks Republican Sen. Ray Holmberg, estimated 26 committees will be formed, each with about 14 lawmakers.

Each committee will compile a report and any suggested legislation prior to the 2023 session.

North Dakota is one of four states where the Legislature meets every other year.

Among the more high-profile studies will be a review of “the amount, type, cost, and occupancy of property leased by the state or any state agency” since 2018. The study comes in the wake of a news report about expensive but unused office space for a state agency that intends to allow most of its more than 400 employees to work from home indefinitely.

Committees also will be assigned to review a 13 mandatory studies from legislation passed before adjournment last month.