- Associated Press - Friday, July 31, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Hundreds of new laws are set to take effect in North Dakota, including one that will make it easier to buy alcohol on Sundays and another that will allow concealed-carry permit holders to bring their guns to more places.

As of Saturday, when the 309 new laws passed by the 2015 Legislature kick in, posting nude or sexually explicit images of someone on the Internet without their consent can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, and victims can sue for damages in such cases.

State spending bills and some measures have already been part of North Dakota law for about a month. Budget bills take effect July 1, when the state’s fiscal year begins.

So-called ham-and-cheese legislation that relaxes North Dakota’s Depression-era ban against corporate farming was to go on the books Saturday, but the state’s biggest farm group successfully pushed the matter to a June 2016 public vote. The North Dakota Farmers Union is leading the campaign to overturn the Legislature’s decision to exempt pork and dairy operations from the state’s anti-corporate farming law.

A new law will also requires voters to present a valid ID showing their birthdate and address before they can cast a ballot.

North Dakota’s Republican-led Legislature approved a spate of pro-gun legislation this year that will allow a concealed-carry permit holder to pack heat in public parks, rest areas and liquor stores, and at political functions and concerts. The bill also allows people to carry a single-shot stun gun without having to obtain a concealed-carry permit. College students and university employees will also be able to keep firearms in locked vehicles on campus.

On Sundays, restaurants may now serve alcohol at 11 a.m., instead of noon. The a bipartisan “brunch bill” is intended to put North Dakota cities on par with bordering states that allow for earlier booze sales on Sundays.

Another new law will downgrade being caught in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana on or near school property from a felony to misdemeanor.

Legislation that protects student journalists’ free-speech rights will also take effect, as will a law banning the sale of electronic smoking devices and alternative nicotine products to minors.

Other new laws will limit law enforcement’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance purposes and prohibit the use of drones to interfere with legal hunting.

The definition of stalking also will now be expanded to include the use of a global positioning system or other electronic devices.

And as of Saturday, the governor will no longer be allowed to appoint people to fill vacated U.S. Senate seats. Instead, a special election to fill such openings would be held within 95 days of the seat being vacated.

Rumors, mainly from Republicans, have been swirling in North Dakota for months about a potential gubernatorial bid next year by U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Among the state’s most popular Democrats, Heitkamp won’t be up for re-election in the Senate until 2018. Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple hasn’t said whether he plans to seek another term as governor and Heitkamp has remained mum on the prospect.

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