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By Janell Cole, forumcap@btinet.net, Published November 26 2001

Redistricting only one part of N.D. special session

BISMARCK, N.D. -- When legislators gavel in today to draw new district lines, they have several other things on their to-do list, some procedural, others substantive.

First, it could take all morning to organize the session.

Legislative Council Director John Olsrud said it likely will be at least late this morning or after lunch before the redistricting committee meets and starts its business, which includes taking testimony.

While that committee handles the primary job of the session, other lawmakers will be working on bills to suspend the banking privacy law passed in March and fix a sex offender registration law.

And the Senate will hold confirmation hearings for Gov. John Hoeven's appointees: Commissioner of Financial Institutions Tim Karsky, Securities Commissioner Karen Tyler, Board of Higher Education member Bruce Christianson and Gaming Commissioner Lois Altenburg. All were appointed after the regular legislative session adjourned in April.

Here is how the session should start:

At the 9 a.m. start-up, each house will take roll call. The newest legislator in the state, Sen. Gary Lee, R-Casselton, will be sworn in. He was appointed in August to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Sen. Gary Nelson. Then, each house appoints a rules committee. Next, the committee on committees meets. It will formalize the joint redistricting committee's appointment for the session. The Legislature's employment committee from last spring will meet to put its stamp on hiring of staff for the special session.

And a technical corrections committee will be appointed to hear all other bills beyond the redistricting bill.

After all that, said Legislative Council Director John Olsrud, it likely will be at least late this morning or after lunch before the redistricting committee meets and starts its mapping business, which includes taking testimony.

Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, says he is introducing the bill to suspend banking privacy law that legislators passed in March. The governor suggested the suspension after a referral drive succeeded in having the law put to the voters next June. The law took effect in July, despite the referral petitions, because it had an emergency clause. Hoeven suggested that, with the law's future questionable, its effectiveness should be suspended until after the June vote. Kasper opposed the bill that passed in March.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem wants the state's sex offender registration law to get a minor fix so that state law matches a federal mandate. Without the fix, the state could lose federal funds.

Another bill that has been discussed -- to enable the state to take part in a proposed national sales tax holiday -- is iffy. Congress had not enacted such a holiday, though it still might.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830