Legislative roundup: education, animal rights, day care

BISMARCK—The North Dakota House approved its own version of a school bullying bill on Tuesday.

House Bill 1465 defines bullying and requires school districts to have bullying policies by July 1, 2012.

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

Schools then need to make sure the policy is explained to students. Districts also would need to provide information about bullying prevention to staff and school volunteers.

The bill requires each school district to provide bullying prevention programs to all K-12 students. The bill also addresses immunity for liability.

Rep. Joe Heilman, R-Fargo, said the bill combines the best from the three House bullying bills and allows for the most local control. The bill passed on a 76-18 vote.

The Senate has also passed a bullying bill. In the coming weeks, each chamber will review the other’s proposed legislation and determine a final version. 

World history

The House killed a bill that would have required high school students to take world history. The class is now an elective.

Rep. Mike Schatz, R-New England, said living in a global society means there needs to be more global awareness.

“Nothing we do today is new. It’s already been done before, and some of the most interesting stories ever told are involved in world history,” he said. “Remember, you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.”

Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch, R-Mandan, said the Legislature needs to consider the consequences of changing high school graduation requirements. By making changes, there will be students who could then miss out on a state scholarship because they weren’t aware of new criteria, she said.

“They need to know what the requirements are. They need to know that it’s not going to change every two years because somebody has a favorite subject that they want passed,” Kelsch said.

The bill failed on a 44-50 vote. 

Animal rights

The Senate unanimously passed a bill asking for a study related to the humane treatment of animals.

The study would recommend policy changes to laws found to be irrelevant, inconsistent, illogically arranged, not reflective of current practices or needs, or unclear in their intent and direction.

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, said the issue of animal welfare needs to be studied before any laws are changed to prevent potential damage to the state’s agriculture industry.

“If we make mistakes or missteps as we move forward, we could really create a lot of problems for a lot of people,” he said. “We need to make sure that we do it right the first time.”

Senate Bill 2365 now moves to the House. 

Day care

The Senate also passed a bill to provide resources to day care providers who serve children with disabilities and special needs.

Senate Bill 2298 establishes a state grant program for licensed early childhood service providers. The goal is to increase the number of trained staff available to supervise, care for and educate children with disabilities or developmental delays, according to a news release.

The bill also directs the North Dakota Department of Human Services to make technical assistance available to providers who serve children with special needs.

The bill would allow for a specialist to train providers in modifying or adapting their care methods, to address the health and safety demands of special needs children, and to provide guidelines for developing individualized care plans with parents.

“By giving child care providers the tools they need to care for children with special needs on an individualized basis, we are supporting North Dakota families who often have nowhere else to turn,” Sen. Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford, said in a statement.

The bill now moves to the House. 


The House voted 89-5 to approve a simplified version of the abstinence bill.

The bill now states that school districts need to ensure their health curriculum includes exposing students to abstinence-based concepts by July 1, 2012.

“This is not a difficult topic to get up and discuss, and the children want to know the truth,” said bill sponsor Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

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