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BISMARCK -- More signatures may soon be required to petition a grand jury to hear allegations of wrongdoing against a public official. On Thursday, the Senate amended then passed House Bill 1451, which now requires 25 percent of electors of the total county's gubernatorial vote in the last election. A petition would have to have a minimum of 225 and no more than 5,000 signatures. Current law requires 10 percent of electors of the total county vote for governor in the last election.
BISMARCK -- A $30 million fund will be available to organizations to help preserve natural resources if Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs a bill passed Thursday. Senate lawmakers passed House Bill 1278 to create the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund, which would provide grants to applying organizations to protect and improve water quality, wildlife and fish habitat on private and public lands and conserve natural areas. Dalrymple has supported the proposal to take 4 percent from the oil and gas production taxes to create a fund that would be capped at $30 million.
BISMARCK -- Lawmakers passed two proposals Wednesday that will allow school districts to use local tax revenues to fund early childhood programs. It's a move many lawmakers say will help increase the number of preschool programs around the state. "It's an incentive to take a hard look at local tax dollars," said Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, chairman of the House Education Committee. "Up until today, districts didn't have the authority." The Senate passed House Bill 1429 and the House passed Senate Bill 2229.
BISMARCK -- Lawmakers on two Senate committees recommended passing the proposed Medicaid expansion program that would provide insurance coverage to an estimated 20,000 North Dakotans who are currently living without. The final recommendation by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday sends House Bill 1362 to the full Senate for a final vote. If approved, the measure will be sent to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature. The measure passed the House in February by a 57-36 vote and was recommended by the Senate Human Services Committee last week. Rep.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota voters may have to present identification before they can cast a ballot at the next election. Senate lawmakers Wednesday passed House Bill 1332 by a 30-16 vote, which will eliminate the voter affidavit process that allows a voter to cast a ballot without proof of eligibility. Currently, people who can't prove residency at the polls can vote by signing an affidavit that says they are a North Dakota resident. The bill will be sent to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature. The bill's sponsor, Rep.
BISMARCK -- Kristie Skunberg said Wednesday the amended version of the Legislature's animal cruelty bill is too weak and fails to address creating penalties that fit the crimes against animals. The chairwoman of North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty said in a news release that the amended version of Senate Bill 2211 is far worse than its original proposal. The bill cleared the House on Wednesday and will have to obtain approval by the Senate before it is sent to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature.
BISMARCK -- A small group of lawmakers quickly removed an amendment Tuesday morning from an anti-abortion bill that would have prevented state agencies from contracting with an individual or organization that advocates the practice of abortion. The amendment was removed from Senate Bill 2368, which seeks to define birth at conception and prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, within 10 minutes by a 6-0 conference committee vote. Dubbed the "Grande Amendment," after its sponsor, Rep.
BISMARCK -- Rep. Ed Gruchalla said the state needs to take a big step when it comes to cracking down on drinking and driving because "people don't pay attention to baby steps." The Fargo Democrat said he thinks the Legislature's approach to beefing up penalties for driving under the influence won't be enough of a deterrent and doesn't address the true problem of first-time DUI offenders, who make up two-thirds of the state's drunk drivers. The House voted down a Senate proposal Friday, leaving House Bill 1302 as the only other DUI bill.
BISMARCK -- A group of North Dakota residents plans to circulate a petition to put the state's three new anti-abortion measures to a statewide vote.
BISMARCK -- Senate lawmakers split their votes Thursday over a six-bill package of firearm legislation. Lawmakers said concealed weapons should not be allowed in schools, but they are welcome in churches with the permission of a church leader. Other bills that passed include one to require nonviolent felons to file a petition with the state's attorney to gain their gun rights and another to allow concealed weapons in gaming sites, or any place that sells lottery tickets.