ND Legislature Wrap - Fri.

ND Legislature Wrap - Fri. Click to Enlarge

The North Dakota Legislature has passed a bill that would allow school districts to designate an armed first responder at schools.

The Senate passed the House bill on Friday.

The legislation requires districts to create a plan that must be approved by law enforcement and the local school boards. School districts also have the ability to withdraw from the plan at any time.

Supporters of the guns-in-schools bill say it's focused on rural schools without a school resource officer, since it takes law enforcement time to respond to an emergency situation.

Education groups have opposed the idea, fearing safety of students and potential lawsuits and higher insurance costs.

The bill now goes to Gov. Doug Burgum.

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The Republican-led North Dakota Legislature has passed a bill banning gun buyback programs subsidized by taxpayers.

The Senate approved the House bill on Friday. It now goes to Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature.

Backers of the bill outlawing gun buybacks say they do nothing to increase public safety and only threaten gun rights.

Republican Rep. Luke Simons, the primary sponsor of the bill, says the firearm buyback programs send a message to children that the "government is buying evil guns to get them off the street."

Kansas and Indiana passed similar legislation in 2014 that bans local governments from using taxpayer money for gun buyback programs to remove weapons from circulation.

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North Dakota's Republican-led Senate has endorsed legislation that would ban the most commonly used procedure in second-trimester abortions.

Senators voted to approve the House bill Friday to outlaw the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. The bill uses the non-medical term "dismemberment abortion" to describe the procedure.

Abortion-rights groups argue that banning the procedure is unconstitutional because it interferes with private medical decisions.

Similar laws in other states are on hold because of legal challenges.

The Senate amended the bill to make the ban effective when a federal appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court allows its enforcement. The House still must approve that change.

Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has not said whether he would sign or veto the measure.

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North Dakota's Republican-led House has defeated a proposal to make it more difficult for citizen-led initiatives that amend the state constitution.

The House voted unanimously Friday to kill the Senate resolution to raise to 60 percent the voting margin necessary to approve a constitutional amendment, instead of a majority.

GOP majority leaders sponsored the measure.

The move was inspired in part by a string of successful ballot measures funded largely by out-of-state interests.

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The North Dakota Legislature has passed a bipartisan bill is to exempt lawmakers' communications with public employees.

The House approved the Senate bill on Friday.

GOP Sen. Judy Lee of West Fargo says her bill is intended to clarify what she says already is understood to be the case in private correspondence between the Legislature and public employees.

Records of communications between lawmakers and their constituents already are exempt from North Dakota's open records law.

Jack McDonald, a Bismarck attorney who represents media outlets on issues regarding the state's open records and meetings laws, has argued that such communications should be open.

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North Dakota's male-dominated Legislature is considering a resolution to nullify its 1975 support of the Equal Rights Amendment.

It's a move seen as offsetting revived efforts nationally to enshrine the nearly half-century-old measure in the U.S. Constitution.

The resolution is sponsored by seven male Republican lawmakers. It says Congress' deadline for ratification of the gender-equality amendment passed 40 years ago and is no longer valid.

The resolution already has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

If the resolution is approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature, North Dakota would join Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Dakota as states that ratified the amendment and later withdrew their support.

But North Dakota is believed to be the first state to seek to withdraw its ratification since the 1970s.

AP



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