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Fargo lawmaker says 'a lot has changed' since he last served in the Legislature

Photo provided by the North Dakota Legislative Assembly

A Fargo legislator returned to the House after a 39 year absence.

Steve Swiontek (R-Fargo) served in the House from 1977 until 1984. He was elected again in 2022.

"It's kind of like riding a bike, where you have developed those relationships again," Swiontek said. "Working with others to try and come up a consensus of what's in the best interest of the state, as well as for your district — that hasn't changed."

Swiontek said what has changed is technology. He said it was quite the change from the “bill books” used earlier to having everything electronically available.

Swiontek also said the state budget is much larger, and lawmakers dealt with a number of cultural issues that weren’t on anyone’s radar in the 1980s. But Swiontek said the basics have stayed the same.

"When you think about that, you have so much to do in 80 days, on the size of budget that we have, plus all the policy changes, that's pretty amazing," Swiontek said. "Plus, to have every single bill heard in committee, voted on on the floor — that's very unique. Very few legislatures do something like that."

Swiontek said looking back, the 2023 Legislature accomplished a lot.

"The importance we're placing on behavioral health is really critical," Swiontek said. "Child care, workforce development, education funding — both K-12 and higher education — we're really prioritizing the needs of the businesses for attracting and retaining people in North Dakota."

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