The fate of this legislation seemed to be sealed last month when the House gave it the “death by study” treatment, which is when lawmakers take a bill they don’t like but don’t really want to be seen voting against and turn it into something that may or may not be studied during the interim (which study bills created during the legislative session actually get studied is up to Legislative Management).
But in conference committee the Senate did not concur with the House’s decision to turn it into a study. The bill was amended and emerged back on the House floor today.
Here’s the original language of the resolution:
“The bill had some conflicts with language between residents, residency, and qualified elector,” Rep. Jim Kasper, who carried the bill to the floor out of conference committee, stated. Those concerns came from the Secretary of State’s office which noted that it’s hard to stretch the definition of who is qualified to vote on election day to include whether or not someone is eligible to serve an entire four-year term.
So, fair enough. The conference committee came back with this language which wouldn’t allow a lawmaker to be seated in the state assembly unless they’re a resident of their district:
Kasper was asked by Rep. George Keiser (R-Bismarck) if this language would allow a lawmaker to move out of his/her district after being seated. “That is a possibility,” Kasper replied, noting that said lawmaker would still have to be back in their district before being sworn in to the next legislative session of their term.
“There is a little bit of wiggle room but not too much,” he added.
Still, House lawmakers weren’t liking what they were seeing. They rejected the conference committee report on a 39-48 vote after it was clear the voice vote on the floor was against it.
Notably absent from the floor during the debate and vote was Rep. Corey Mock (D-Doesn’t Live In His District), who was the inspiration for this resolution.
UPDATE: A House lawmaker texts, “Mock was in the building and hiding in minority leader’s office. In fact poked his head out to see if debate was over. Therefore he violated house rules requiring voting I believe.”