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The Capitol in Bismarck is buzzing during the session. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)
The Capitol in Bismarck is buzzing during the session. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

North Dakota Legislators' Goals

Lydia Hoverson
 January 9, 2023
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Lawmakers Share Their Thoughts

lydia.hoverson@mydakotan.com 

BISMARCK – Lawmakers have over a week of legislative work under their belts, but still many more to go. A few legislators shared their goals for this session.

Representative Matt Heilman, R-Dis. 7, Bismarck, is one of the many new members this session and only 21 years old.

“I’m very excited,” said Heilman. “It’s not too intimidating. There’s a lot of people here who have been very helpful along the way.”

Heilman believes not many freshmen focus on building relationships.

“It’s your first session, there’s a lot of people who don’t know you,” said Heilman. “There’s a lot of first impressions to make, so I think building connections, relationships, and bridges is a key component to being successful long term.”

Heilman introduced a bill which would prohibit counties and cities from banning natural gas and new construction.

“That was in response to Berkeley, California’s City Council,” said Heilman. “They banned natural gas and new constructed buildings. San Francisco started doing the same thing, and New York City. Now 20 state legislatures have passed laws saying that if you’re a political subdivision, you can’t be banning natural gas and new buildings.”

Heilman said it is better to prevent the problem than to attend to it later.

The organizational session in December was helpful, says Heilman, and many experienced legislators seemed to want to help the large freshman class.

Representative Cory Mock, D-Dis. 18, Grand Forks, said his goal is to do good work.

“I tend not to approach legislative sessions with a lot of personal goals,” said Mock. “We get constituent bills that will come in. Those are always a high priority, but that’s usually problem solving and trying to address concerns of individuals. Sometimes it requires legislation, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Mock’s biggest personal goal is to maintain civility, cooperation, and have a successful session.

“I’m more of an institutionalist,” said Mock. “I think we all win when the process holds. People will disagree, and at the end of the day you hope that everyone is not disagreeable. It’s about policy, not personalities.”

Mock believes disagreement has always been a problem, and not just between Republicans and Democrats but between east and west, urban and rural, big cities and small towns, and more.

“When you have 1,000 bills come into the legislative session, most of the divides are going to come from anything other than Republican versus Democrat,” said Mock. “There are fewer Republican versus Democrat from my experience over the last several sessions, and that may be a product of the drastic split, having a super minority and supermajority.” 

Mock said he is probably one of the least partisan members of the legislature, and to him, party is the last reason anyone should support him or anyone else.

“I’m here to focus my work, to do my job for my constituents, for my community, and I see us as problem-solvers,” said Mock. 

Mock believes it is about making sure the minority voice is heard.

“I think now we’re seeing minority isn’t necessarily the Democratic party, you’re seeing some factions within the majority caucus,” said Mock. “It’s becoming more evident you have differing ideologies within the Republican caucus. It’s a matter of ensuring that all of the viewpoints are being shared, and we’re all part of the final product.”

Mock said in some cases Democrats are a part of the majority opinion.

Representative Donna Henderson, R-Dis. 9B, Calvin, is a new member this session. She said her goals are to do whatever she can for the conservative cause.

“If we can cut the budget, if we can decrease taxes, if we can get more freedoms,” said Henderson. “There’s some really good bills, some really conservative ideas.”

Henderson said it was good to get brushed up on some of the numbers during orientation in December. It was also helpful in finding out where to sit and which committees she would be on.

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