Bills! Bills! Bills!

We’re talking about drugs, guns and God in local politics


Being involved in politics can be rewarding and interesting, but sometimes it’s hard to sift through the legislation to find something worthwhile. Here are some bills that are bound to spark interest.

Drugs in the Senate

The North Dakota State Senate has voted to eradicate minimum sentencing for some drug dealing and manufacturing. This would give judges more discretion in processing these crimes. To be specific, the bill would take away minimum sentencing for an offense that takes place after your first, according to The bill will now move to Gov. Doug Burgum for a signature.

“The use of mandatory minimum sentences do not seem to be having the desired deterrent effect that was initially sought,” Sen. JoNell Bakke, D-Grand Forks, said.

Pat Bohn, the director of parole and probation for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the bill will not lessen the bite of the penal system in North Dakota. “The court still has its full availability of the maximum penalty at hand,” Bohn said.

Gun laws

A committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a “red flag” bill, sending the piece of legislation to a full House vote. The red flag bill is similar to a bill that was shot down in North Dakota recently. Basically, if someone is deemed by the police or their family to be incapable of possessing a firearm, then the police can seize the firearm.

This law has been debated heavily and protested by both sides of the issue. Some, including law enforcement, said this law could help prevent suicide. “The vast majority of suicides I have gone to have not been with firearms,” Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, said. Some gun owners and activists see this bill as an attempt at “gun grabbing” with no due process.

California was the first state to introduce this type of gun restriction with many following suit, such as Maryland. Minnesota’s majority Republican Senate has said they will block the bill.

South Dakota state religion

An amendment to a previous bill would mandate that all schools have a plaque, sign or piece of artwork with “In God We Trust” featured on it. The plaque would have to be a certain size and be visible in a prominent area.

The new bill would also protect schools from the legal dispute and pay any legal fees incurred by the school, according to the Forum.

The main argument against the bill is that the words are religious in nature, but proponents say the signs encourage patriotism.

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