North Dakota Legislature: Guns, vaccines, fleeing drivers and hate crimes all addressed with new bills

Photo by: North Dakota Legislative Branch
Photo by: North Dakota Legislative Branch

(Bismarck, ND) -- While only two bills have been signed into law, there is still plenty happening in Bismarck as the current legislative session continues.

A North Dakota Senate committee is considering a bill that would ban messenger RNA vaccines in North Dakota, including the COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the vaccines use lab-created messenger RNA to teach cells how to make a protein that triggers a body's immune system to produce virus fighting antibodies. Supporters of the bill say mRNA vaccines are risky and need more study. Opponents say the new approach is promising and that medical providers in North Dakota would be criminalized. A similar bill would end vaccination mandates in the workplace.

In the meantime, one North Dakota lawmaker is pushing for tougher hate crime laws.

Representative Mary Schneider is proposing a bill that would require police officers to undergo additional training on identifying and responding to bias crimes. The bill would mandate a bias identification class for every officer in the state every two years. The bill would also strengthen charges in situations where a person injures someone else in a bias crime to aggravated assault. The bill would require police departments to send criminal bias reports to the attorney general's office.

The North Dakota State Senate is advancing a measure that would expand enforcement against drivers who refuse to pull over for police officers.

The bill would give officers 96 hours to write a ticket for fleeing, which would be delivered to the suspected driver. The owner of the vehicle wouldn't be charged if the car had been reported stolen or if someone else was driving. The fine for fleeing an officer is currently 500-dollars.

And lawmakers are considering a gun bill that would distinguish where a weapon or firearms can and can't be carried.

The state Senate bill would ban people from possessing a dangerous weapon or firearm on school property, in churches, or in publicly owned or operated buildings. The bill wouldn't apply to police or corrections officers and some others.