- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota lawmakers wrapped up their session late Thursday with a budget that slashes state spending by nearly one-third due to declining tax revenue from depressed farm and energy prices.

Over 77 days, lawmakers also approved more than 400 bills - and talked about many more that didn’t pass. Here’s a look at the results from the every-two-years session likely to have the most impact on daily lives:

SHRINKING REVENUE, SHRUNKEN BUDGET

The Legislature’s $13.6 billion, two-year budget spends about $4.3 billion. Compare that to two years ago, when oil was doing better and the state budget had spending at around $6 billion.

Lawmakers drained a rainy day fund and pared back government agencies. They also used some profits from the state-owned bank.

Democrats said spending cuts fell too hard on social and other programs.

OIL PIPELINE PROTEST LAWS

The Republican-led and oil-friendly Legislature quickly pushed through several bills early in the session spurred by the bitter dispute between Dakota Access protesters and law enforcement.

One law makes it a crime to wear a mask in most cases, and another increases penalties for rioting.

North Dakota had been the center of protests against the $3.8 billion, four-state pipeline, in large part because of objections of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the southern part of the state.

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LAKE OIL ROYALTIES

Lawmakers passed a measure intended to clarify ownership of minerals under Lake Sakakawea. The legislation limits the state’s mineral claims under the Missouri River reservoir to a smaller area than it had claimed. It’s a move that will cost the state an estimated $187 million in oil-drilling royalty payments that must be returned.

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VOTER-ID LAW

Legislators reworked North Dakota’s voter identification laws, though a lawyer representing a group of American Indians in federal court say the new requirements still don’t comply with a federal judge’s ruling.

Some tribal members last year sued over the state’s voter identification requirements, saying they were unconstitutional and “disproportionately burden and disenfranchise Native Americans.”

The lawsuit, which is pending in federal court, spurred the Legislature to attempt to fix the laws. The legislation allows those who don’t have proper ID to cast a ballot that is set aside until the voter’s eligibility is confirmed.

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SOCIAL SERVICES-TAXES

Legislators passed a measure that requires the state to take over social services costs for the 53 counties under a two-year program that would eliminate counties’ ability to tax for those services.

In exchange, the Legislature is ending a so-called tax relief fund that was used to give homeowners a 12 percent buydown of property tax rates.

Lawmakers say the state can no longer afford to do that.

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“JUSTICE REINVESTMENT”

Lawmakers passed legislation aimed at slowing prison growth by helping nonviolent offenders through treatment and sentencing alternatives rather than putting them behind bars.

Among bills signed is a measure that lowers penalties on first-time offenders for drug possession, with a goal to reserve that prison space for more dangerous criminals.

Other legislation appropriates $7 million to improve access to substance abuse treatment programs.

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Lawmakers took weeks to craft a comprehensive measure that regulates the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana initiative.

Medical marijuana won 65 percent voter approval in November. The voter-approved version called for far more freedom for citizens to grow and smoke the plant than lawmakers were willing to go for. They removed provisions for growing it, and allow smoking only when a medical provider calls for it.

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ANDREW’S LAW

The Legislature enacted new protections for confidential drug informants, three years after 20-year-old college student Andrew Sadek was found dead in a river with a bullet in his head and a backpack of rocks tied to his body.

The legislation clarifies the rights of people offered the role as a confidential drug informant, including their right to an attorney. It also requires a written agreement.

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GUNS

North Dakota will become one of about a dozen so-called “constitutional carry” states.

The bill allows law-abiding people 18 and older to forgo background checks and the classes that are now required.

The legislation only requires someone carrying a concealed weapon to have a valid ID and notify law enforcement of the weapon during instances such as a traffic stop.

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STATE-OWNED CASINOS

The Legislature rejected a measure to more than double the number of casinos in the state, a push some lawmakers viewed as a threat of payback against American Indian tribes for protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Under the proposal by Majority Leader Al Carlson, a Fargo Republican, voters would have decided whether to change the North Dakota Constitution to add six state-regulated casinos to the five current ones on tribal land.

He argued that his plan should be viewed as a “pre-emptive strike” against a voter initiative that could establish casinos with rules less desirable to lawmakers.

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PARKING METER BAN

Despite a big behind-the scenes push by Gov. Doug Burgum, lawmakers want North Dakota to remain the only state that bans the meters on all public streets.

Burgum supported lifting the ban as part of a plan to revitalize downtown areas. He said it would encourage parking turnover, leading to more sales for businesses and more tax revenue.

The state outlawed meters in 1948 after an angry farmer was ticketed for not feeding the meter.

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