North Dakota Legislature: Trans restrictions, speed limit, front license plate bills discussed

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

(Bismarck, ND) -- Governor Burgum is set to have a full desk as lawmakers continue to push through several bills during the legislation session.

A bill aimed at restricting how North Dakota public schools treat transgender students is headed to Burgum's desk.

The Republican-led House approved a Senate bill Wednesday that would prevent school districts from enacting policies to accommodate transgender students without specific permission from parents. Teachers would be allowed, but couldn't be required, to use a transgender student's preferred pronoun if permission is given by the child's parents and a school administrator. Schools would also be barred from providing instruction that recognizes the concept that gender identity can differ from sex at birth.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are advancing a measure that would end a tax hike triggered by high oil prices.

The state Senate has passed a bill that would abolish an increase in the tax rate on oil triggered when prices reach a specific threshold. The House approved the proposal last month. The measure was backed by the state's petroleum industry.  Governor Burgum has previously indicated that he would sign a bill to get rid of the tax trigger.

Lawmakers are also giving a green light to raising the speed limit on interstates.

The House bill narrowly passed and would raise the speed limit on interstates passing through North Dakota by five miles an hour. Reduced speeds in some sections will remain in place. The North Dakota Highway Patrol has remained neutral on the issue.

A proposal that would eliminate front license plates on cars and trucks has failed.

The proposal would have directed the Department of Transportation to do away with the practice of issuing front plates for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and trailers. The North Dakota Highway Patrol opposed the measure, saying the plates are helpful in identifying vehicles during investigations. The bill would have saved North Dakota 125-thousand dollars a year.

North Dakota will remain largely dry on Thanksgiving.

The Senate voted down a House-approved bill Wednesday that would have allowed off-sale of alcohol after 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The ban on Thanksgiving sales of alcoholic beverages is one of the few still-standing reminders of the state's blue law past. Off-premises alcohol sales are still banned from 2 to 8 a.m. on Sundays, after 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and from 2 to 8 a.m. on Christmas Day.

And finally lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have provided grants for children with dyslexia.

The defeated bill would have allocated 300-thousand dollars to a dyslexia voucher program. Funding for the program would have gone toward resources such as assistive technology, and  training and educational materials for parents and tutors. About 20-percent of North Dakota children receive a dyslexia diagnosis.