Legislative Update

Terry B. Jones

District 4 Representative

Hello from Bismarck,

This week seemed like a slower week for me, but as I reviewed the week’s bills to write this summary, I realized we covered 25 bills in my two committees.

SB2167 in Judiciary committee expands the jurisdiction of the campus police to include the streets around campus to help better protect our students.

SB2113 allows DOT to do hearings on driver’s license violations remotely as long as the person involved consents to the remote hearing.

SB2107 is a bill for the department of corrections (DOCR) that makes information in the department’s files protected so an employee of the DOCR is not accidently identifiable which might put them in harm’s way.

HCR3042 allows only elected officials to increase taxes or fees, not the executive branch.  This seemed like the right thing to do because we want anyone who is increasing fees or taxes to be accountable back to the people. 

SB2166 was a hotly discussed bill in committee this week.  There is an increased amount of shoplifting happening across the state. One Ace hardware store in Bismarck had over $50,000 of tools and other things shop lifted in a year’s time.  The owner has had to rope off the section that contains the electric hand tools and only allow customers he is familiar with to go behind the ropes to buy tools. 

The thieves are organized and appear to be repeat offenders. They seem to be stealing things as a way to make a living, not just your candy bar type shop lifters we grew up with.  One of the concerns is that there is an increase in violence by the shoplifters if they are accosted. There seems to be a lot of screaming and even brandishing of weapons (knives specifically).  The thieves have learned that if they make enough noise and enough threats the store personnel will usually let them go.  

There also seems to be an increase in grab and run shop lifting, where someone grabs a chainsaw for example and runs for the door to a waiting vehicle which then speeds out of the parking lot onto the street.  This endangers the people in the store when the person runs through the store with a chainsaw in their hand and endangers the people in the parking lots and streets due to the high speed get away. 

The committee has heard the testimony on this bill but we have not discussed the bill in committee to figure out what we can or should do.  There is already a lot of laws on the books that would prevent someone from threatening violence with a knife and other laws that should protect stores and the public from this bad behavior.  We will be looking to see if we need to make modifications to our laws or not.  If you have any suggestions on this particular bill please reach out to me with your suggestions.

HCR3045 was brought by a fellow legislator asking for a study on bias motivated crimes in North Dakota.  This resolution is reminiscent of the bill we saw earlier this session on the same subject.  The committee understands that there is racial discrimination and crimes being committed that may have a racial motivating factor.  The problem is, these types of legislation have proven to exaggerate the racial division in our country instead of healing the racial divide.  It is my contention that there is only one race of people in this country, the American Race.  Our country is the melting pot of the world and was built by immigrants.  We need laws that recognize the benefits of treating every one equally.  In committee I reminded everyone that the symbol for justice is a statue of a woman holding a set of scales while she is blindfolded.  Justice is supposed to be equal based on the facts on the scale.  There is no opportunity for the lady to lift the blindfold to check the color of a person’s skin.  Our laws should reflect this, therefore the committee passed this resolution out of committee with a DO NOT PASS recommendation.

SB2149 was a bill that would allow state airports to enter into contracts with UBER and LIFT type companies to provide for a way for the airports to charge a fee on top of the transportation company’s fees.  Everyone in committee likes the idea of the services these companies are providing but we were uncomfortable with creating an additional tax on our citizens so we voted it out of committee with a DO NOT PASS recommendation. 

As always it is a pleasure to serve you and I am learning a lot.  And hope to be able to serve you better as time goes on.  If you have any questions or suggestions please contact me.

Terry B Jones,  701.627.3397  [email protected]