BISMARCKâ€”The North Dakota Legislature has officially passed school bullying legislation, which one senator referred to as â€œnanny state government run amok.â€
The Senate voted 36-10 on Thursday to approve the Houseâ€™s version of bullying legislation.
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 for school districts.
Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, a vocal critic of the legislation, said aggressive bills to try to stop aggressive behavior in schools will be ineffective.
The bill has victims relying on the school to protect them from bullying and will promote a victim mentality that will handicap kids for life, he said.
Students need to know they will be bullied and learn how to handle those situations when they occur, Larsen said.
Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, said people have picked on each other since the beginning of time. Bullying prevention programs will use up valuable minutes in the school day, she said.
â€œThis is just another example of nanny state government run amok,â€ she said.
The House has already passed the bill on a 76-18 vote.
A House committee heard the Senateâ€™s version of bullying legislation earlier this week, but the chamber has not yet acted on it. The bills have similar wording.
Devils Lake flooding
The Senate Agriculture Committee heard a resolution urging the U.S. Agriculture secretary to change prevented planting provisions in crop insurance policies to provide compensation to producers affected by Devils Lake flooding.
One cannot imagine the conditions that farmers face in the Devils Lake basin, said Dan Wogsland, executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.
â€œWhile farmers throughout the state experience weather calamities of one type year in and year out, losing your livelihood to a rising lake that is out of control is a horror that no one can fathom,â€ he said.
House Concurrent Resolution 3040 states Devils Lake flooding has inundated about
200,000 acres of highly-productive farmland.
Agricultural landowners storing Devils Lake floodwaters have helped reduce the impact of the inundation on others, but they have not been compensated for storing the water, the resolution says.
The resolution asks for compensation and economic relief to landowners who again will not be able to farm. The Senate committee unanimously agreed to approve the resolution.
Snow removal and flooding
A big crowd of state and local officials asked legislators on Thursday for financial relief to help with snow removal and flooding throughout the state.
Senate Bill 2369 designates $9 million for emergency snow removal grants, with specific guidelines for counties, townships and cities that apply.
The bill also includes $22 million to the Department of Emergency Services to defray expenses associated with state disasters and for flood mitigation efforts.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill last week. The bill is now before the House Appropriations Committee.
The Senate Transportation Committee will likely make a decision about the texting while driving and distracted driving bills sometime next week, Sen. Gary Lee, R-Casselton, said.
The committee heard testimony on both bills on Thursday. The first would implement a statewide texting while driving ban. A first offense would be a $100 fine and 2 points against a driverâ€™s license.
The second would go beyond texting and include any distraction. This would also be a $100 fine. However, a driver would need to commit another driving violation before being cited for distracted driving.
The House passed both bills, which now await action by the Senate.
The bullying vote breakdown can be found below:
Andrist, Berry, Christmann, Cook, Dotzenrod, Fischer, Flakoll, Freborg, G. Lee, Grindberg, Heckaman, Holmberg, J. Lee, Kilzer, Klein, Krebsbach, Laffen, Luick, Marcellais, Mathern, Miller, Murphy, Nelson, Nething, Nodland, O’Connell, Oehlke, Olafson, Robinson, Schneider, Sorvaag, Stenehjem, Taylor, Triplett, Wardner, Warner
Bowman, Burckhard, Dever, Erbele, Larsen, Lyson, Schaible, Sitte, Uglem, Wanzek
Absent and Not Voting: 1