The legislative process in North Dakota only takes place every two years. With that in mind, all hunters, anglers, trappers and anyone else who spends time outdoors, has an opportunity to engage in the process now, rather than later this year after bills become law and changes in how you spend time outdoors are already implemented.
While the process itself is sometimes confusing even to those who follow the legislature on a daily basis, there are a couple different ways to stay informed. Understand that my intent here is not to influence any opinions or decisions, but to help those with an interest in legislation realize how their input can be considered.
The first step is to learn about the legislation. The Game and Fish Department website provides a link on the upper left of the home page at gf.nd.gov. The 30 or so bills being tracked are summarized, with a link that will take users directly to the North Dakota Legislature’s website for exact wording and bill status.
Following here are just a few bills that have been attracting attention so far and were still active as of Feb. 18.
HB 1131 – This bill relates to the minimum age for applying for and receiving big game and youth deer season licenses, plus it also seeks to clarify language regarding eligibility for receiving a gratis deer license.
HB 1264 – Would create a special license needed to hunt during the early Canada goose season for both residents and nonresidents, and would allow all nonresidents to hunt during the early goose season statewide with the days not counting against the 14-day regular waterfowl season license. Would also require the Game and Fish Department to implement an online application process for Canada goose kill permits to match volunteers with producers. Has passed the house and is now in senate.
HB 1278 – This bill would create a North Dakota outdoor heritage fund which would provide access to private and public lands and develop fish and wildlife habitat
HB 1195 – This bill would allow an individual to show proof of a hunting or fishing license in paper or electronic format, such as showing a copy of a license from a smartphone or tablet computer in the field. Has passed the house and is now in senate.
After perusing bills on the website and considering how they might influence your hunting and fishing interests, you may want to contact your local legislator to relay your feelings on whether the bill should pass or fail. Understand, legislators may not ultimately vote as you would like, but not communicating with them is one sure way your thoughts will definitely NOT be considered.
There is still plenty of time to weigh in on most bills. While a few were already acted on by committee and were voted down by either house or senate, most are still working through the legislative process.
Friday, March 1 is “crossover” day, or the deadline when bills that originated in the house or senate must be voted on and if passed, sent to the other chamber. Bills that have been defeated are also listed on the Game and Fish website.
Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org