- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s Legislature is in its last week before its midseason break, and lawmakers are finishing up committee work and considering remaining bills in their respective chambers. And many of the major spending bills are still being considered this week in House and Senate appropriations committees as the session heads to “crossover.”

Monday is Day 33.



The North Dakota Legislature has acted on more than 80 percent of the 812 bills and resolutions that have been introduced. House Majority Leader Al Carlson and his Republican Senate counterpart, Rich Wardner, are planning at least two floor sessions daily Tuesday through Thursday to clear remaining measures. Monday is Presidents Day and a state holiday but the Legislature will be in session. Lawmakers intend to take Friday off instead to get an extra day before the session resumes on March 1 and when House members will begin working on Senate bills, and vice versa.



Rules written to oversee the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law have made some of the measure’s backers smoking mad.

The 81-page bill sponsored by both Republican and Democratic leaders took out provisions to smoke pot for medicinal purposes or to grow your own - something backers of the initiative believed was understood by the electorate.

An amended version of the bill still does not allow residents to grow pot as medicine but they would be able to smoke it provided a physician finds that no other form such as marijuana oils or pills “would be effective in providing the patient therapeutic or palliative benefits.”

The full Senate is slated to vote on the bill this week.

The so-called North Dakota Compassionate Care Act won 65 percent voter approval in November. It allows the use of marijuana as medicine for people who suffer from one of several debilitating illnesses.



North Dakota Senate budget writers are recommending that the state’s tobacco prevention agency be dissolved.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday voted 11-3 to cut the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, which also is known as BreatheND. The three Democrats on the panel dissented.

The agency was created in 2008 after the state accepted money in a settlement of a multistate lawsuit against the country’s largest tobacco companies.

The agency has eight employees and a current two-year budget of about $16.5 million, but has asked for $18.2 million for the next two-year budget cycle.

Former Gov. Jack Dalrymple recommended closing the agency in his final budget address in December and its efforts be shifted to the state Health Department, which also has tobacco prevention programs.

Gov. Doug Burgum also left funding for the agency out of his budget.



Lawmakers are considering proposals that would allow people with concealed carry permits to have guns in churches, schools and other public places. Along with the package of guns-rights measures is the most pro-gun bill of all, the so-called “constitutional carry” that would allow people over the age of 21 to carry concealed firearms without a permit.

The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave that bill a unanimous “do pass” recommendation last week. The full House is slated to vote on it this week.


Follow James MacPherson on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/macphersonja

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