House committee recommends 'do not pass' on multi-board bill

Feb 8, 2019

The North Dakota House Education Committee is recommending the full House kill the bill which would create two separate boards of Higher Education – one for the two “research” universities, and the other governing the rest of the system.

As introduced, it would have been a “three board” system – one for UND, one for NDSU and one for the other 9 institutions. It was amended in committee, then the committee voted for a “Do Not Pass.”

The committee chairman – Rep. Mark Owens (R-Grand Forks) -- said the bill may have been premature – because there has to be a change in the state’s Constitution. That resolution was still being drafted when the Committee took its action.

"Prudence suggests that perhaps, you get a concurrent resolution on the ballot first, and you make sure the people vote for it," Owens said in an interview. "If the people vote for it, in Nov., 2020, it takes effect Dec. 1. And the Legislature meets in 2021, and they can take this up."

Owens said committee members had some problems with some of the proposed changes on who can be a member of one of the boards.

"Earlier, people from out of state could be on the board if they had a connection to a North Dakota university," Owens said. "That was taken out. Now you would not have to have a connection. You can be anybody, and be on the board."

The main sponsor of the bill – Rep. Shannon Roers-Jones (R-Fargo) – was having the language for a Constitutional amendment drafted. She says she doesn’t know what the strategy will be going forward.