With Crossover at close and hearing just now ramping back up, it seemed like a good opportunity to recap a few of the high profile bills that were voted on in the first half of the 2013 Session. And, since the voting record is a transparent and open process, it seems only appropriate to state the reasoning behind the votes. Last week took a look at the Medicaid Expansion, this week we’ll look at just a couple more of the hot items before moving on to new business. As always – if there are any questions or concerns on any topic, please feel free to let me know.
Abortion. The House passed two bills through related to abortion – HB 1305 and HB 1456. The first is related to the ability for parents to abort based on gender selection and abnormalities, the second is based on the first detection of a heartbeat in an embryonic state. I voted no on both of these bills for several reasons… First, I consider decisions of abortion – or any reproductive health issue – an intensely personal and private matter that should be left to women, their families, and their doctors to weigh out and base decisions on. To mandate that all women must return to a time prior to the 70s seems regressive at best, draconian and oppressive at worst.
Further, the matter of women’s reproductive health as it relates to abortion is a matter for the United States Supreme Court – not the legislative branch of a state. Oh, sure, we can pass the law – and most likely this will be the case along with another four that will be heard this week from the Senate side – but the laws WILL be immediately challenged in federal courts. This isn’t a speculation, it will happen, and it is no doubt that this is the intention of the bills. The idea of using North Dakota as a national launch pad along with North Dakota financial resources (money that is badly needed in our local communities for wide variety of issues) to fight this legal battle, is particularly egregious. With no fiscal note attached to any of these bills, we could be faced with legal costs in the millions. For those who wish to continue the fight against the Supreme Court decision of 1973, let them do so. But, let them pay for it – not on the dime of the people of North Dakota.
Both have passed the house and will now be debated in the Senate.
Guns. The House saw four bills come through related to guns – HB 1183, HB 1366, 1215 and HB 1467. There was great concern that the bills were restrictive of gun rights. I did not find this to be the case, and actually either expands concealed weaponry or looks to restrict local law enforcement’s ability to work with federal law enforcement.
1467 relates to a declared state of emergency and would not allow the restriction of individual firearms in the state of a declared emergency. In recent years we’ve found ourselves in numerous emergency situations and I don’t recall one instance where the Governor recalled an individual’s rights to their firearms. The language of the bill seems to be a solution looking for a problem – and if taken to the letter, could create some precarious, if not dangerous, situations for our local law enforcement or National Guard. Consequently, even though this bill passed, I did not vote in favor of it.
1366 expands the use of concealed weapons – without any additional background checks. I am opposed to this concept and voted against it.
1215 is also an expansion of concealed weapons and is extremely disturbing to me. If it passes the Senate, this new law would allow schools and churches to carry concealed weapons in the school as per school or church board decision. While I do have concerns on guns in any church or school, the part that disturbs me most is where these decisions would be made in “executive session”, ostensibly to allow the decision to be made outside the constraints of public open meeting laws. Reactionary and short-sighted, I voted no on this bill.
1183 would prohibit local law enforcement agencies from working with federal agencies in the investigation, enforcement and prosecution of federal firearms laws. Convoluted and restrictive to the point of becoming dangerous for our local agents – and with not a single ND law enforcement agent I spoke being in favor of the bill – the entire premise seems to not only be a solution in search of a problem, it would most likely create any number of very real problems in quick order. With that, I voted no – and have no doubt sealed my NRA “F” rating.
Difficult and complicated topics – undoubtedly these votes aren’t going to please all. But, to be sure, they were made with thoughtful deliberation. As the days and weeks move forward, we’ll find the Senate reviewing these bills – and we’ll be reviewing a number of similar topic coming before the House. Property tax relief continues to be a source of discussion in both chambers. Til next week!
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