Bill would explore possibility of special commission to oversee North Dakota Game and Fish Department
As part of the bill, Legislative Management would consider studying laws to explore the feasibility of implementing an appointed Game and Fish Commission to oversee the department.
BISMARCK – A bill introduced in the North Dakota state Senate would explore the possibility of appointing a special commission to oversee the Game and Fish Department.
Authored by Sens. Jordan Kannianen, R-Stanley; Greg Kessel, R-Belfield; and Scott Meyer, R-Grand Forks, SB 2368 was referred to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee for further consideration. Authoring the bill in the House was Rep. Clayton Fegley, R-Berthold.
As part of the bill, Legislative Management would consider studying laws governing the Game and Fish Department during the 2023-24 interim to explore the feasibility of implementing an appointed Game and Fish Commission to oversee the department. The study, as outlined in the bill, would have to include a comparison of North Dakota laws and those of other states regarding game and fish agencies and how commissions are appointed.
Legislative Management, a 17-member panel including House and Senate majority and minority leaders, would then report its findings and recommendations to the 2025 Legislature.
Currently, North Dakota’s hunting, fishing and trapping regulations are set by governor’s proclamation.
As of Friday, Jan. 27, there were 19 active outdoors-related bills in the North Dakota Legislature. A bill that would have provided a property tax break for land enrolled in the Game and Fish Department’s Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program was defeated in the House, and a Senate bill that would have allowed the use of .22-caliber and .50-caliber rifles on private land for big game hunting was withdrawn from consideration.
Here’s a look at the hunting and fishing-related bills introduced to date in the North Dakota Legislature.
: Adjusts the license, permit and application fee for an out-of-state National Guard member to the same fee as a resident. Defines out-of-state guard member as an individual who is a current or former member of the North Dakota National Guard who resides in the United States outside the geographical boundaries of this state. Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard Jan. 19.
: The Game and Fish Department would not be allowed to issue rules, adopt a policy or practice prohibiting the baiting of deer for lawful hunting. Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard Jan. 20.
: Prohibits posting of state school land to public access. Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard Jan. 20.
: Allows the dog handler to carry a handgun in the recovery of a big game animal while in the presence of a dog. The dog handler cannot use the handgun to assist in the recovery of the animal. Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard Jan. 19.
: Allows the 11-, 12- and 13-year-old antlerless white-tailed deer youth hunter to also hunt during the regular deer gun season. Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard Jan. 20.
- HB 1258 : The agriculture commissioner shall study challenges associated with native pollinating insects, including their decline, associated ecosystems, health and resilience. Referred to Agriculture Committee; hearing set for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 2.
- HB 1260 : Develops agreements to compensate private landowners for the development of habitat on private property specific to the geography, form and function necessary for addressing fish and wildlife populations. In addition, allows the Game and Fish director to issue special antlerless elk depredation management licenses to landowners in a manner designated by the director upon payment of the fee required for a resident big game license. Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee; hearing set for 2:15 p.m. Feb. 2.
- HB 1366 : Includes barefoot skiing with water skis and surfboards section of Century Code, detailing regulations including legal hours, observers and penalties. Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- HB 1377 : Any member of a party of 10 or fewer may take or kill the number of deer which is equal to the number of valid deer licenses held by the participating members of the party. Each person in the party must hold a valid combination license to be eligible to party hunt. Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
: Fifty percent of the true and full valuation of land enrolled in the Private Land Open to Sportsmen program, which is owned by a resident of this state, would be eligible for property tax exemption. Effective Dec. 31, 2022. Finance and Taxation Committee heard Jan. 24 and amended to 10%. Recommended 9-3 do not pass as amended. Failed House 17-73.
: A nonresident youth who is younger than 16 years of age may purchase a resident small game hunting license and may hunt small game and waterfowl except swans and wild turkeys (removes the reciprocal licensing agreement). Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee; hearing set for 9 a.m. Feb. 3.
: A nonresident who previously has purchased a resident hunting or fishing license with the department and has a resident family member in the state may purchase a resident family member small game license and hunt upland game as authorized by the department. The nonresident may hunt upland game for four days, which may be consecutive or nonconsecutive from Nov. 15 to the end of the upland game season. Referred to Energey and Natural Resources Committee; hearing set for 9 a.m. Feb. 3.
: Enacts a new section of Century Code related to fishing contests. Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee; hearing set for 9 a.m. Feb. 3.
: The 2023-25 legislative starting base level appropriation to the Game and Fish Department for the biennium beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2025, is $89,581,634. The governor’s recommendation is $110,754,601. Appropriations Committee heard Jan. 11; Appropriations Education and Environment Division heard Jan. 25.
: Requires a political subdivision to notify the Game and Fish director, among others, before engaging in meetings with federal agencies to have any water body in the state designated a wild, scenic or recreational river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Passed Senate 45-2.
: Would not prohibit the use of firearms between .22-caliber and .50-caliber when hunting big game on private land. Withdrawn from consideration.
: Nonprofit organizations eligible to receive special allocation big game hunting licenses would also include those eligible organizations exempt from federal income taxation under section 501(c)(19). Current law states those under section 501(c)(3) are eligible to receive no more than two elk, two moose, two pronghorn and 10 white-tailed deer licenses. Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee; hearing set for 9:30 a.m. Feb. 3.
: Removes the term “resident” from certified hunter education volunteer instructors who are eligible to receive complimentary lifetime certificates and combination licenses. Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee; hearing set for 9 a.m. Feb. 3.
: When an owner or lessor of land in the state, the state owes a duty of reasonable care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, regardless of the location and nature of the recreational purposes and whether the entry or use by others is for recreational purposes or is directly derived from the recreational purposes of others. The state shall clearly and conspicuously warn of a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity on the land to persons entering for recreational purposes. Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
: During the 2023-24 interim, Legislative Management shall consider studying the laws governing the Game and Fish Department and the possibility of implementing an appointed game and fish commission to supervise the department. Referred to Energy and Natural Resources Committee; hearing set for 11 a.m. Feb. 2.
- SB 2382 : Requires all watercraft used in North Dakota to be registered with the state; and provides a penalty. Referred to Transportation Committee; hearing set for 9 a.m. Feb. 2.
The Game and Fish Department tracks and posts regular updates on the status of outdoors-related legislation on its website at gf.nd.gov. Crossover for this year’s legislative session, the date in which bills introduced in one chamber must move forward – or “cross over” – to the opposite chamber, is Friday, Feb. 24.