Summary of 2017 Session
by Christopher Dodson
North Dakota Catholic Conference
Assessing a legislatives session from the perspective of Catholic issues is not easy task. By its nature the political process is never perfect. At the same time, the church does not always propose specific public policy proposals, but instead offers guidance on issues that may not always result in “yes” or “no” recommendations on particular bills.
Nevertheless, we can makes some observations about the last legislative session. As can be seen from the list below, the North Dakota Catholic Conference’s position prevailed on the bills it identified as most significant. At the same time, we wish more could have been done in the area of human services, especially behavioral health and addiction services.
The conference opposed more bills than any previous session. Usually, the conference opposes only one or two bills of importance. This session it actively opposed thirteen bills. Eight of those involved threats to religious freedom.
Also noteworthy is that the corporate guardianship program at Catholic Charities and the Alternatives to Abortion program received funding increases at a time when most programs received reductions in funding. Both of these programs are strongly supported by the Catholic Church.
Discovering how your legislator voted on these bills can be difficult. Contact the North Dakota Catholic Conference office if you need assistance.”
|Bill||Description||North Dakota Catholic Conference Position||Outcome|
|HB 1012||Department of Human Services Appropriation/corporate guardianship program/20 new slots||Support||Success.|
|HB 1012||Department of Human Services Appropriation/Alternatives to Abortion program/increase||Support||Success|
|HB 1012||Department of Human Services Appropriation/Renewal of Medicaid Expansion||Support||Success|
|HB 1015||Office of Management and Budget Appropriation - inclusion of nonpublic school teachers in teacher loan forgiveness program||Support||Success. Language included in final bill.|
|HB 1040||Behavioral health programs recommended from interim study.||Support||Limited Success. Final bill included only a fraction of the funding requested.|
|HB 1273||Firearms in churches without the church’s permission.||Opposed||Success. House removed the objectionable language.|
|HB 1163||Repeal Sunday closing laws.||Opposed||Success. Passed House but defeated in Senate.|
|HB 1294||Allow alkaline hydrolysis for disposal of human remains||Opposed||Success. The alkaline hydrolysis portions were removed by the House.|
|HB 1308||Mandatory addiction screening/testing for TANF recipients||Opposed||Success. Passed House but defeated in Senate.|
|HB 1319||Disclosure of original birth records to adopted individuals.||Opposed||Success. Defeated in House.|
|HB 1365||Authority of a guardian approve treatment in case of psychiatric emergencies.||Support||Success|
|HB 1383||Relating to loitering. Would have interfered with pro-life witnessing, religious expression, and homelessness.||Opposed||Success. Defeated in House.|
|HB 1386||Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.||Opposed||Success. Defeated in House.|
|HB 1425||Anti-foreign and religious laws bill.||Opposed||Success. Passed House but defeated in Senate.|
|HB 1427||Original version would have allowed local and state authorities to block refugee resettlement.||Opposed||Success. House amended the bill into a possible legislative interim study of refugee impacts.|
|SB 2125||Possession of a firearm in church without church’s permission||Opposed||Success. Bill amended to address concerns.|
|SB 2139||House amended the bill to allow any “elected official” to possess a firearm in a church, school, or public building without permission.||Opposed.||Success. Senate Defeated the bill.|
|SB 2201||Relating to the freedom of expression of student journalists. Would have dictated policies for private universities regarding student journalists.||Opposed||Success. Senate removed the sections concerning private universities.|
|SB 2203||Appropriation to the attorney general for human trafficking victims treatment and support services.||Supported||Success.|
|SB 2279||Drug testing for TANF program participants.||Opposed||Success. Defeated in Senate|