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Dura

Budgets. Bills. Buying home-baked goods. 

North Dakota House and Senate committees continue to wind their way through the numbers and new proposals this legislative session. 

One of them would tighten cottage food operations, which lawmakers expanded in 2017 to include direct-to-consumer sales of largely home-baked and canned items. 

This session, Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden, introduced Senate Bill 2269, for what he said brings clarification and consistency to current law, including definitions and intent.

But also some new requirements that cottage food proponents criticized as too onerous in the original bill, such as labeling and transport requirements.

Now the bill is set for a hearing before the House Agriculture Committee at 9 a.m. Friday in the Brynhild Haugland Room — the room at the state Capitol for audiences expected to be large. 

Color coded 

Testimony on Senate Bill 2315 resumes at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Brynhild Haugland Room of the state Capitol. The bill addresses hunting access on private land and has drawn immense and intense interest this session from landowners and sporting groups.

The bill also seeks a database for hunting access on private land, suggested to be color coded green for open access, red for closed access and yellow for requiring permission to hunt. 

In his testimony, North Dakota Department of Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand expressed some reservations over using those colors, as they currently represent other lands on Private Land Open to Sportsmen maps. 

Green represents waterfowl production areas, yellow is PLOTS and red is wildlife management areas. 

Sen. Robert Erbele, R-Lehr, who introduced the bill, said he's not wedded to the color coding. 

"Then use 1, 2, 3, or A, B, C, or X, Y, Z, but there be a designation so that you specifically know what designation is open, what is open with permission and what is closed land," Erbele said last Thursday.

Judicial needs

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A Senate appropriations subcommittee has taken up the judicial budget.

Court officials have asked for a new judgeship for the judicial district that includes Burleigh and Morton counties, as well as a near $1 million remodel of the North Dakota Supreme Court Law Library at the state Capitol.

State Court Administrator Sally Holewa said the court will have a contractor's new estimate of remodeling costs by early April. The remodel is meant to be a cost-saving maneuver to relocate the judicial information technology staff from a rental space in downtown Bismarck. 

Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot, asked about the prioritization of requested new court positions. 

Holewa said an electronic court recorder in Minot is the foremost priority, followed by two deputy clerks of court, two law clerks, then the South Central Judicial District judgeship.

Based on 2018 filings, Holewa said the South Central Judicial District needs about 2.6 judges, similar to rates since 2009.

Due to budget reductions in the 2017 session, the judicial branch cut about 35 full-time positions around the state.

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Reach Jack Dura at 701-223-8482 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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Capitol Reporter