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Security may increase for upcoming legislative session

BISMARCK -- A preview of the upcoming legislative session will unfold over the next few days as the 17 members of North Dakota Legislative Management will be in the House Wednesday, Nov. 16, to review reports produced by 23 interim committees. "T...

North Dakota State Capitol building in Bismarck
(Wikipedia / Bobak Ha'Eri)

BISMARCK - A preview of the upcoming legislative session will unfold over the next few days as the 17 members of North Dakota Legislative Management will be in the House Wednesday, Nov. 16, to review reports produced by 23 interim committees.

"They will present their basic findings, and they will discuss potential legislation," Legislative Management Chairman Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, said.

One issue that might be a unique is a ramping up Capitol security for the 2017 session. Details will be determined in the coming weeks.

"The way society has developed we have to be cognizant of that," Holmberg said. "The comfortable protesting season is soon over."

Meanwhile, the review of the reports will commence and is a way for lawmakers to get up to speed on the work done outside of their own committees, according to Holmberg.

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The Legislative Management meeting is also the first to draw the large majority of the Legislature to the Capitol since the Dakota Access Pipeline protests began in earnest this summer.

Some initial conversations between legislative leadership and the North Dakota Highway Patrol are expected to take place in private during this week's committee work on security measures for the 2017 session.

The issue of security has become more pressing after multiple incidents in recent weeks on the state Capitol grounds.

On Halloween night, two individuals splattered motor oil on the sidewalk and glass doors of the west entrance to the Capitol and left a sign with a message appearing to be in solidarity with the protesters that have been camping in Morton County in recent months.

A group of clergy and protesters came to the Capitol and held a rally outside the building before moving across the street from the governor's residence. Fourteen people inside the judicial wing were arrested and multiple others were arrested outside the building.

On Monday, hundreds gathered outside the Capitol tower before marching to downtown Bismarck.

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