Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

I am trying to get new legislation introduced for the 2011 legislative secession. I have contacted my district legislators already, and one of them suggested that if I continue to contact legislators there would be legislation introduced.

I have never before tried to introduce new legislation, and I do not want to overstep my bounds. My question is this: Is it all right for me to contact all of the North Dakota legislators, or am I supposed to contact only the legislators from my district?

Elayn Cook

Grand Forks

Thanks for writing! I contacted a few of the legislators in leadership positions to ask their thoughts on the matter. Here’s what House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo said:

“The best thing to do is contact your own legislators and ask if they would be willing to introduce a bill on your behalf. Obviously, they would need to be sympathetic to your issue.

If that does not work, find a legislator who agrees with your issue and ask them to introduce the bill on your behalf.”

Senate Assistant Minority Leader Carolyn Nelson of Fargo said: “My preference would always be that you contact your local legislators first. Now, that being said, there are times when there are certain legislators who are interested in a particular topic.”

Local legislators should be able to recommend others who may be interested in supporting the bill, she said. Nelson said she normally does not respond when someone mass e-mails all of the legislators.

I also received the following question from a Starkweather reader:

I would appreciate your checking into what could be a life threatening “glitch” in our driving laws. After almost being sideswiped by a farm truck 18-wheeler on Interstate 29 south of Grand Forks, I was told by a state representative that farm drivers have a “special dispensation” and are not required to have a CDL license to operate large trucks within 150 miles of their home farm.

The representative went on to say that the sponsor of the state legislation used the argument, “We (the farmer) don’t have time to take those tests!” Is anything being done to require everyone operating a large vehicle to have a CDL license, or will we have to wait until someone is killed to realize everyone needs to take the time to know how to properly operate large trucks in a lawful manner on our public roads (township, county, state and federal)?

Is the 150-mile radius the federal limit or was that an arbitrary number determined by North Dakota?

Thanks for writing! Here’s what Jamie Olson from the North Dakota Department of Transportation said:

“The 150-mile radius farm exemption is authorized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations pertaining to commercial driver licenses. The original intent of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was to regulate the over-the-road truck and bus drivers transporting property or passengers across state lines in commerce.

“There were a number of groups that were deemed exempt from the regulations based on occupation and the intent of the act. ‘Farmers’ was one such group; however, the exemption did require an area restriction, the 150-mile radius, and stipulation that the farmer must be transporting the farmer’s own product. North Dakota adopted the federal regulations to be in compliance with CDL, hence the farm exemption.

“Since this is a federal regulation, any changes would need to be addressed at the federal level.

“The 150-mile radius is the federal limit.”

Do you have a question for a state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government). You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505. Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

One thought on “Today’s Ask Your Government

  1. INTRODUCING LEGISLATION… MY QUESTION IS; DID YOU RESEARCH IT TO
    MAKE SURE THAT THE LAW OR RULING IS NOT ON THE BOOKS. SOME PEOPLE
    ARE IN A HURRY TO GET LEGISLATION ON A LAW THATS BEEN ON THE BOOKS
    SINCE 1889. IT’S NOT INFORCED BECAUSE THERE ARE TOOOO MANY LAWS ON
    THE BOOKS COVERING THE SUBJECT.

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