Winter 2021 Report on Business Launch with the Missing Column
The Winter Issue of Report on Business is hitting mailboxes this week. This issue looks at the overlap and relationship between health and safety. We focused on insider perspectives of these issues as well as insight on vaccine development and the COVID-19 fight. The context provided by those "in the trenches" helps understand the ongoing happenings and how they are important to businesses. With the launch of this issue, GNDC Director of Communications, Amanda Remynse, reflected on insider perspective specific to the GNDC arena - the 67th Legislative Assembly.
The Missing Column to the Winter 2021 Issue: Preparing for Session - Insider Perspective
If you know anything about GNDC, you know that Legislative Session is a busy time for us. It’s our Black Friday, our Super Bowl, our State Fair, our OshKosh (aviation nerds will know this reference). Session is all-hands on deck, who’s who-ing senators and representatives, and the full jargon of terms and protocol to sort through. Our state constitution has laid out that the Assembly is to convene regularly every January after a legislative election, which equates to odd-numbered years. This assembly has two bodies – the House of Representatives and the Senate. This summary seems simple, straightforward but when you think of the importance and breadth of material that happens over 80 days, it actually becomes overwhelming.
GNDC began preparing for this session in June of 2019, approximately a whole month after the last session ended. Our work with the 66th Assembly finished but we began our policy development process for the 67th, driven for and with our membership. Other GNDC preparation has included researching and monitoring ongoing state and federal happenings and examining these policies through the industries that contribute to our state’s economy. Preparation for Session is more time-consuming than the session itself. It’s a time to start finding your ducks and getting them in a row, or at least in the same 19-story building.
Although it’s my first session with GNDC as a registered lobbyist, I’m not a total stranger to the legislative process. Previously, I served 9 years in state government. The preparation for this session was more than slightly different than my past. Previously, I prepared documents, worked with division leads and directors, and supplied requested material to my departments or Legislative Council. This year there was more talk about impacts, policy positions, and understanding member perspectives. I looked at facts and figures, reviewed other state legislation, examined agency prepared documents, and listened to learn. I poured over the Lawmaker Book and, given COVID-19 “adjustments,” watched videos on the processes that were being implemented.
I think many of us don’t think about the amount of preparation that occurs in totality, even during a non-pandemic “normal” year. State agencies have been preparing and submitting budgets for months. The Executive Branch has been sorting and sifting through provided work and priorities to build a budget and strategy. Legislative Council and Legislative Management, unsung heroes of the process, has been drafting bills, conducting surveys, holding interim committee meetings, and supporting the environment where the work occurs.
Legislators carry the brunt of the work. The amount of information that these 141 people consume is incredible and nothing is off-limits. Think of the bills that are drafted for consideration – abandoned vehicles, career and technical education centers, bonding, child support systems, agency budgets, workers compensation documentation, RN licensure compacts – and that’s only a handful of the first week bills. Their efforts go deep and their interest to improve our state is applaudable. I reached out to two legislators – one who has seen the changes she’s been a part of and one who has just begun his legislative adventure. I asked them a simple question – how did you prepare for this legislative session? Their responses tell me that no matter how the world changes and no matter if it’s their first session or 13th session – these individuals understand the importance of the next couple of months and take their job seriously.
Senator Judy Lee – District 13 – Thirteenth Session
"I don’t do anything special to prepare for the session, because I am always preparing for it. The work I do in the interim is always ongoing, sometimes leading to solving problems as they arise and sometimes leading to drafting bills to resolve them in the future. Aside from renting a place to live during the week and hauling clothing out to Bismarck, the session is just the capstone on the previous 18 months or so. Although the intensity of the activity may pick up during the weeks prior to the session with finding co-sponsors for bills which have been drafted, I am always in touch with department heads, advocates, and constituents about the issues, especially those in human services and health care areas."
Rep. Mike Beltz – District 20 – First Session
“Certainly, as a freshman, my preparation would be different than that of the more seasoned legislators. Mine is reading, reading, and more reading along with watching training videos prepared by Legislative Council on all the computer apps we will be using to conduct a Session in these Covid times.”
In the words of Senator Ray Holmberg, “At the end of the day, we will pass something, we will say we did a good job…. we will all go home victorious.” I have a feeling he’s on to something. Big things that will determine the course of our state are going to occur over the next couple months, it’s all about how we prepare(d) for it.
GNDC WINTER 2021 ISSUE OF REPORT ON BUSINESS - THE HEALTH & SAFETY ISSUE