North Dakota Bill Balooza

I’m just a bill; yes, I’m only a bill

Some bills are just too juicy to pass up. Here are some that may connect to students or the public at large.

Free speech on campus

The North Dakota House passed a bill similar to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order that would require higher education institutions to adopt a policy protecting free speech and expression, according to the Forum. The bill would amend a current policy in place.

Jared Melville, president of the North Dakota Student Association and current North Dakota State student, said he was pleased by the House’s adoption of the bill. “It’s good to see that there is now some urgency to modernize the policy,” Melville said.

Melville told the Forum, “Students are happy to see that the legislation was amended so that the State Board remains in control of drafting and approving the policy, because as it moves forward through the higher education bureaucracy, students will be able to have a higher level of input on the policy.”

Marijuana again?

A bill to decriminalize marijuana was approved by the North Dakota Senate, according to the Forum. House Bill 1050 would lower the charge for possessing less than a half-ounce of marijuana to a $250 fine.

North Dakota’s current laws hand people found with the same amount with a misdemeanor, which carries a 30-day jail sentence and a $1,500 fine.

According to the North Dakota State’s Attorneys’ Association, general judges have already been giving “slaps on the wrist.”

According to the Forum, Gov. Doug Burgum is in favor of some kind of decriminalization.

The bill, in many ways, is toeing the line between seemingly legalizing the substance and bringing about change after the 2018 ballot measure.

“We need to satisfy some of the people who want the penalties to go away for possessing a small amount of marijuana but don’t want to take the big step toward legalization,” Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, R-Fargo, said.

Roers Jones has been pushing for the bill since its inception.

Selling cigarettes to minors

The state Senate voted down an amendment that would have raised the penalty for those caught selling cigarettes to minors. The amendment would raise the act to a Class B misdemeanor, carrying the same sentence as marijuana possession.

“That makes no sense to me that we’re going to … give somebody a Class B misdemeanor while I’m bagging groceries and mistakenly give somebody who looks 18 some cigarettes,” Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, told the Forum.

Larsen also said the move would go counter to the push to decriminalize marijuana.

The original bill that did pass the Senate would impose a $500 fine on each sale of e-cigarette liquid to minors.

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