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Mid-session recap: Corporate farming bill up again, while ‘Canada Day’ gets a modified ‘aye’

BISMARCK - Lawmakers will dive right back into the thick of things when they reconvene Wednesday after a three-day recess, and that's especially true for the House and Senate agriculture committees, which will take up two of the session's most co...

BISMARCK – Lawmakers will dive right back into the thick of things when they reconvene Wednesday after a three-day recess, and that’s especially true for the House and Senate agriculture committees, which will take up two of the session’s most contentious ag-related bills.

The House Agriculture Committee will host a hearing at 8 a.m. Thursday on Senate Bill 2351, which would exempt dairy and swine operations from North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming law. Senate Republicans passed the bill 27-18.

As with the Senate hearing, a strong turnout is expected: The hearing will take place in the Capitol’s largest hearing room, the Brynhild Haugland Room.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has a hearing scheduled in the same room at 8 a.m. Friday for House Bill 1238, which would double the beef checkoff from $1 to $2 for each head of cattle sold in the state. House members passed that bill 69-22.

In all, House committees have 75 hearings on the calendar for Wednesday through Friday, while Senate committees have 69 hearings slated.

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‘Canada Day’ gets modified ‘aye’

In one of the more lighthearted moments on the Senate floor this week, a few lawmakers took some linguistic liberty in putting their seal of approval on March 5 as “Canada Day in North Dakota.”

The designation, created by House Concurrent Resolution 3023, is lawmakers’ way of welcoming Canada Consul General Jamshed Merchant, who will address the Legislature that day, said Sen. John Grabinger, D-Jamestown.

The resolution highlights that Canada is the largest U.S. trade partner and that North Dakota hosts more than 1 million Canadian visitors annually who contribute $280 million to the state’s economy.

It also recognizes that the International Peace Garden near Dunseith has been a symbol of the friendship between the two countries since 1932, and that North Dakota sells more goods to Canada than it sells to all other countries combined.

“They also have some pretty darn good fishing up there, as well,” Grabinger said.

The House had already approved the resolution before the Senate unanimously endorsed it Monday.

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Most senators voted “aye,” but a few couldn’t help themselves.

“Eh,” they said.

 

What was the other prayer?

In covering the story of how a Muslim doctor wasn’t allowed to deliver the House’s opening prayer on Ash Wednesday because some members wanted a Christian pastor to give the invocation, Forum News Service transcribed and published the prayer the doctor ultimately delivered in the Senate that day.

Which prompted one reader to ask: What was the prayer delivered in the House by the Christian pastor, the Rev. Rich Wyatt of Living Hope Church of the Nazarene in Bismarck?

Here’s Wyatt’s prayer to the House:

"Father God, we come before you today. I can see on people's foreheads how they're celebrating this day and how important this is. I pray for the rest of us that we worship you in our own faith and our own way and honor you the best we can. We want to do that through legislation. We want to do that through caring for the people in the state of North Dakota today. Bless these servants that have been elected. We do this all in your son's name. Amen."

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From taxes to … taxes

When session is in full swing, lawmakers don’t have a lot of free time to manage personal affairs.

So, after seven weeks of swimming in paperwork, Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, was asked what’s on tap for the mid-session recess that runs through Tuesday.

“Most of us have to go back and do our taxes,” she said. “It’s not vacation time.”

Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at mnowatzki@forumcomm.com .

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