- Associated Press - Monday, March 20, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Committee hearings will be few in the coming week as the North Dakota Legislature heads toward its home stretch.

Several pieces of major legislation are still being negotiated by both chambers, including all remaining budget bills.

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CASINO GAMBLE

North Dakota’s Republican House majority leader is not giving up on his effort to establish more casinos in the state, even after members of his own party folded on the idea.

Fargo Rep. Al Carlson says his proposal to allow up to six state-owned casinos will be reconsidered by the House Judiciary Committee this week. The Republican-led committee shot down the idea in a 13-2 “do not pass” recommendation last week.

Carlson’s resolution is a proposed constitutional amendment that would go to voters next year if lawmakers give the OK. It does not need the governor’s approval, but GOP Gov. Doug Burgum says he’s against the idea.

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PERMITLESS CONCEALED CARRY

The North Dakota Senate will take up a bill to allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. It’s an idea that has already cleared the House.

It would allow people 21 or older to forgo background checks and classes that are now required.

Backers say the bill promotes constitutional rights and allows protection from criminals. Critics worry it could lead to more shootings as people with less training would be carrying weapons

About a dozen states already have similar laws. The South Dakota Legislature this month approved a similar measure but GOP Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed it, saying his state’s gun laws are reasonable.

North Dakota GOP Gov. Doug Burgum hasn’t said whether he would support the bill.

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA

The House Human Services Committee has reserved the state Capitol’s biggest room on Tuesday to hear testimony on new state rules overseeing marijuana as medicine.

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.

Provisions that would have allowed growing pot as medicine were taken out of the measure. And patients may only smoke it provided a physician finds that no other form of marijuana would help.

Backers of the initiated measure are alleging lawmakers are changing the intent of the measure against voters’ will.

The Senate passed the measure by more than the needed two-thirds majority. The House also must do the same, or the original voter-approved version goes on the books.

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LEGISLATURE PROGESS

The session opened in January with more than 800 bills and resolutions. As of Friday, Gov. Burgum had signed 105 bills.


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