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House committee hears bill to target out-of-state speeders

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BISMARCK -- As he took to the podium, Rep. Bob Skarphol, R-Tioga, chuckled, "It's very obvious to you folks what precipitated this from coming about."

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He was addressing the House Transportation Committee on House Bill 1189, which would give law enforcement discretion to determine if a driver with an out-of-state license plate could be assessed a higher fine for speeding, with the amount based off speeding fines from the driver's home state.

The intent of the bill is to encourage new residents to register their vehicles in North Dakota.

"There are better ways to do this. This was done somewhat in haste," Skarphol said. "But I believe it's an appropriate attempt to get people to come in compliance with state law."

Rep. Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield, praised Skarphol for his creative way of addressing the problem, but asked if doubling or tripling the current North Dakota speeding fines would be a better option.

"Those that are driving with out-of-state plates know full well what their own states fines are," Skarphol said, noting fines are much higher than North Dakota's.

Col. James Prochniak, superintendent of the state Highway Patrol, provided neutral testimony Thursday, but was worried the bill could place too much responsibility and an undue burden on an officer.

"We try to offer a level of consistency and remove any level of decision making the officers have out there," he said.

The committee also addressed other driving violations and students.

Rep. Ed Gruchalla, D-Fargo, wondered why speeding was the only violation considered.

Skarphol said the biggest concern in his district is safety issues. "Running a stop sign is unsafe, but the main violation is speeding."

Skarphol did not have an issue with the committee making amendments or adding to the bill.

Rep. Kylie Oversen, D-Grand Forks, represents a district full of University of North Dakota students.

Skarpohl assured her the bill would not affect them unless they are gainfully employed and permanent residents of North Dakota.

No committee action was taken on the bill.

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