The Legislative Process

January 28, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

The legislative process needs your involvement, one voice does make a difference!

The legislative process needs your involvement, one voice does make a difference!

The legislative process in North Dakota only takes place every two years. With that in mind, all hunters, anglers, trappers, and anyone who spends time outdoors, needs to engage in the process now, rather than later this year after those bills become law and changes in how you spend time outdoors have been implemented.

While the process itself can be confusing even to those who follow the legislature on a daily basis, there are a couple different ways to stay informed. Understand that my intent here is not to influence any opinions or decisions, but to help those with an interest in legislation realize how their input can be considered.

The first step is to learn about the legislation. The Game and Fish Department website provides a link on the upper left of the home page at The 40-plus bills being tracked are summarized, with a link that will take users directly to the North Dakota Legislature’s website for exact wording and bill status.

Following here are just a few bills that have been attracting attention so far and were still active as of Feb. 14.

HB 1149 – Would lower the minimum age to hunt deer from 14 to 12, and would not require a fee for an antlerless license during the youth deer hunting season. Passed house 80-9.

HB 1200 – Would carry out a PLOTS program for youth under age 18; would carry out a grant program to encourage youth hunting; would establish a youth coordinator position within the Game and Fish Department; and would eliminate the big game license fee for youth under age 16. House Natural Resources Committee made amendments, including to withdraw the free big game license proposal. Recommended do-pass 11-2. Referred to Appropriations Committee.

HB 1311 – Would allow youth 16 and younger to hunt during the youth pheasant season. Currently, the season is for youth ages 12-16. HNRC amended to allow youth who turn 17 during the youth hunting season to hunt for the duration of the youth season. Passed house 92-0.

SB 2147 – Would eliminate the sunset clause and continue to allow nonresidents to hunt during the early September Canada goose season in Sargent and Richland counties without counting against the 14-day nonresident waterfowl license. Passed senate 43-0. Bill in HNRC.

SB 2290 – Would prohibit big game hunters from shooting on or across an established road or trail, or within the right-of-way of an established road or trail. SNRC amended to prohibit a big game hunter from shooting on, over or across a paved, gravel, dirt or loose surface highway, paved or gravel county road, or gravel or raised township road. Recommended do-not-pass 6-0.

SB 2293 – Would allow residents who are on active military and on leave, to hunt small game, fish and trap during the open season without a license upon proof of leave papers and a North Dakota operator’s license. SNRC recommended do-pass 7-0.

After perusing bills on the website and considering the impacts on your hunting and fishing, you may want to contact your local legislator as to your feelings on whether you think the bill should be passed or defeated. Understand, legislators they may not always see things your way, but not communicating with them is one sure way your thoughts will definitely NOT be considered.

One last note, many people often inquire about the Game and Fish Department’s position on a particular bill. Game and Fish does have an official position on some legislation, but that can change if a bill’s wording is changed or an amendment considered. That’s one of the reasons Game and Fish positions are not listed along with bills tracked on the website.

The key in all of this is to get involved in the process. Read up on the bills and interact with your local legislators. There’s still plenty of the legislative session remaining and citizens can make a difference.

One last reminder on obtaining permission. Once you’ve filled your tag, make sure to notify the landowner. This may allow space for other hunters to come onto the property. And likewise, if you’ve not had success, by keeping in touch with the landowner and other hunters, you might find another spot that will work better.

Once again, submitting an application is the first step toward a spring turkey hunt. You can do it online at the Game and Fish Department’s website at, or pick up an application at most license vendors.

Then the wait begins. Think positive. Expect good news from the license drawing and get a head start on your preparations. I will make spring all that much more enjoyable when it does arrive.


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