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Legislative Management Committee chooses 49 Interim studies

The Legislative Management Committee has approved a total of 49 studies for the 2023-2024 Interim.

Of those, 21 are required studies, and 28 were optional.

The Committee chairman -- House Majority Leader Mike Lefor (R-Dickinson) – said the average number of studies over the last three bienniums has been between 45 and 49.

One of the optional studies the Committee approved is a study concerning electric vehicles. Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) spoke in favor of that study. He said the state Department of Transportation will be receiving $25 million in the next biennium for charging stations. He said the study will look at the adequacy of that spending.

"There are people deciding whether or not to come to North Dakota, based on plug-in stations,"Mathern said. "Whether we do more or not, we certainly need to learn more about this demand coming in our future."

Another optional study approved by that Committee will look at the impacts of replacing school “snow days” with virtual instruction days. On-line learning technology was implemented originally during the COVID pandemic. And the Legislature agreed that school districts could use it instead of “snow days,” so schools could receive state payment for those days, and didn’t have to do make-up days.

Sen. Kyle Davison (R-Fargo) said when the legislature gave local districts more flexibility in terms of “snow days,” it came with the caveat that the Legislature would monitor the investment in updating curriculum so students could be on-line. He said he’s concerned that because the state was paying for those school days, it was seeing students being educated and making academic progress.

"I'm not suggesting schools haven't done that," Davison said. "But we told them that when we changed this law to allow this flexibility, we would monitor this, and we would keep an eye on what the feedback was, and how the different districts were handling these virtual days."

Davison said his intent is not to have a “gotcha” study.

"It's to build in the knowledge of how this is impacting schools," Davison said.

The Legislative Council will now send out surveys to lawmakers, to gauge their interest in studies. There will likely be 26 interim study committees appointed once the surveys are returned.

Lefor also appointed Sen. Brad Bekkedahl (R-Williston) to chair the Legislature's Budget Section. Rep. Don Vigesaa (R-Cooperstown) will be the section's vice-chair.

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