North Dakota Legislature: Private School, Retirement System, Book Ban bills in focus

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

(Bismarck, ND) -- Several bills have been given the axe and are under consideration by Governor Doug Burgum as the 68th legislation session continues in Bismarck.

Burgum is rejecting a bill that would offset the cost of private school tuition for some families.

The governor vetoed the measure Friday, which was proposed as a school choice bill. Burgum called the bill "not the comprehensive solution we need." It would set aside ten-million dollars from the state's general fund for an educational reimbursement program. The money would be paid directly to private schools.

In the meantime, two bills targeting sexual content in North Dakota's public libraries are headed to Governor Burgum's desk for signature.

One bill would remove or relocate "explicit sexual material" from the children's collections at public libraries. Libraries would have to submit a compliance report on new policies developed for handling requests to remove or relate books, developing age appropriate collections, and periodically reviewing collections. A Senate bill would allow for misdemeanor criminal charges for willfully exposing minors to "explicit sexual material."

Supporters say the bills protect children from pornography, while opponents say they amount to censorship.

The North Dakota Senate is advancing an amended version of a bill that overhauls the state's employee retirement system.

The bill would move the state's system from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan for new state hires. The bill is headed back to the House for concurrence on amendments before heading to Governor Burgum's desk.

And Governor Burgum is signing a bill that would help address the state's labor shortage.

The Office of Legal Immigration would be responsible for developing a pilot program to support businesses working to recruit legal immigrants. It would also help communities develop plans and activities to integrate immigrants. The office would fall under the North Dakota Department of Commerce.