Article by, Representative Bert Anderson (District 2)
As we near the 50th day of the Legislative Session, the appropriations committees continue to do diligent work to make cuts and find efficiencies in the budget so they can put together a solid plan for the 2017-19 biennium. The policy committees continue to review bills and make recommendations to send to the floor.
This week, after a floor debate that was just short of an hour, the House voted to officially defund the smoking prevention program known as “Breathe North Dakota”. The responsibilities of the agency will be absorbed by the Health Department to streamline government. I voted against this bill due to concerns of the effects this will have on our local health unit.
A few weeks ago, the House voted to repeal Sunday closing laws by one vote. This bill was defeated by a slim margin in the Senate this week, so the current law will stay in effect.
Senate bill 2320 is a bill to legalize a syringe exchange program across the state. The bill would allow drug users to exchange used needles for clean ones to combat the spread of viral diseases as part of a public health response. The bill also states that law enforcement may not stop, search or seize an individual participating in the program. The individuals will also be referred to agencies which can help them with their addiction. This bill passed in the Senate earlier and passed the House last Friday.
The House Transportation Committee, on which I serve, completed our work on Thursday and will be waiting to see which bills come back for conference committee work. My other Committee, Human Services, will hear testimony this week on SB2344 “The North Dakota Passionate Care Act” which would authorize the use of medical marijuana.
*Representative Bert Anderson (District 2), Anderson currently serves on the Human Services and Transportation Committees.