N.D. legislative update: Day 21

BISMARCK—The House defeated a bill Wednesday that would have required public votes for major school district, park district, city and county construction projects.

House Bill 1295 was related to public building projects funded through a building authority.

The goal was to prevent construction of projects, like Fargo’s $43.4 million Judge Ronald N. Davies High School, without the approval of the people who will be taxed, prime sponsor Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, has said.

Fargo School Board President Jim Johnson has said Davies wasn’t built using the district’s building authority. Instead, it is paid with the statutorily allowed building fund.

On Wednesday, Rep. Bill Devlin, R-Finley, said the Political Subdivisions Committee recommended a do-not pass. The committee felt the matter was a local control issue, he said.

If the elected board makes decisions contrary to the wishes of voters, local voters can change board members, Devlin said.

“This is one more mandate from the Legislature to take away one more aspect of local control,” he said.

The bill failed on a 40-53 vote. 

School bullying update

The House Education Committee has created a subcommittee to study the House school bullying bills.

Meanwhile, the Senate Education Committee amended the Senate bullying bill, which is now ready for a floor vote.

Senate Bill 2167 no longer includes No Name Calling Day and criminal code.

The revised bill includes a definition of bullying and requires each school district to adopt a policy on bullying by July 1, 2012.

When developing a policy, the school district would need to involve parents, school employees, volunteers, students, law enforcement, domestic violence sexual assault organizations and community representatives.

Once a policy is created, the district would need to ensure it’s explained to and discussed with students and provide a copy to the parents of each student enrolled in the district.

Each school district would need to provide training in the prevention of bullying to its teachers through professional development and to all volunteers and nonlicensed personnel who have significant contact with students.

Schools would also need to provide bullying prevention programs to all K-12 students. 

Lobbyist update

Secretary of State Al Jaeger provided a lobbyist update on Wednesday. There are 480 lobbyists registered representing 794 organizations.

At the end of the 2008-09 registration cycle, which included the 2009 session, there were 591 lobbyists registered representing 964 organizations, he said.