Legislative Update

Terry B. Jones

District 4 Representative

Greetings from Bismarck,

It has been a hectic two weeks.  Sorry I failed to get a report out last week.

It seems like most of the bills that we deal with at the beginning of the session are agency bills where, in the course of doing business during the interim, an agency finds an error in the way the statutes are being applied so they request that we make changes to the statutes.

Yesterday I carried a bill on the floor (HB1252) that will help cyclists in the cities by allowing them to treat a stop sign like a yield sign.  They will still have to stop at 3 lane highways and if there are other vehicles stopped at their stop sign.  There was a little bit of discussion in committee about the concern that if a bicycle is treating a stop sign as a yield sign, people in vehicles will want to do the same.  The maneuver is called an Idaho stop.  It is kind of hard to believe that with all the things that are going on in our country, we are worried about bicycles.  But that is politics.

Back in 2014 there was a measure on the ballot to make seatbelt laws a primary offense.  Currently it is only a secondary offense meaning they cannot stop you for not wearing a seat belt.  The people in North Dakota spoke loudly and clearly by voting no.  Since that time we keep seeing do-gooders bring the primary seatbelt law to the State Legislature.  I am all for allowing people to wear seatbelts and encouraging them to wear them through education, but I am adamantly opposed to ‘not wearing a seatbelt’ becoming a primary offense.  HB1257 is a bill that would allow adults to not be required to wear a seatbelt.  I cosponsored this bill to send a message to the proponents of primary seatbelt laws that we have good seatbelt laws in North Dakota now and if they keep pushing for the primary laws against the will of the people they may lose ground because North Dakotans believe in freedom of choice.

HB1279 was a big bill dealing with highway fines.  We had a very confusing fine structure that was not consistent in the way people were being treated.  If this passes all of the speeding fines will be uniform on all different types of highways in North Dakota.  The bad news for those that like to speed is that at the lower end of fines it will almost double most of the speeding fines.  The higher end of the fines stayed basically the same.

My concern as a legislator is that we get so busy doing the mundane bill revisions trying to keep up with reading bills and do floor sessions that it is hard to focus on things that are important for North Dakota.  One of the bills that I am focusing on that I feel is really important, is a bill that Tom Kading brought dealing with stopping media censorship.  We will be working on this bill HB1144.  We have a draft amendment that will replace his bill with one I got from Utah that is being considered in 28 other states.  The amendment we are proposing will put some teeth in stopping twitter, youtube, and the other big players from selective censorship like we saw since the election cycle.

There is so much going on I can’t even begin to cover it all.  If you have any questions please call or message me.  701-627-3397


Representative Terry B Jones