64th Legislative Assembly: Week 11 Mon & Tue Highlights- Local control over school concealed carry, Legislative control over tuition, Thanksgiving store opening and Head Start

The 64th Assembly continues into Week 11 on Monday. Here is what is on tap for the first part of the week!

Monday, March 16th

HB 1195 – Allowing school boards to exercise local control over decisions on concealed carry in schools

Senate Education

Missouri River Room

10:00am

The second round of committee debate on what has been one of the most mischaracterized and misunderstood bills of this session will occur on Monday. Despite the mischarecterization and misunderstanding, this bill has at it’s core two realities to consider regarding whether trained and screened concealed carry permit holders should be allowed to carry weapons concealed in a school, with the permission of the school board:

  1. This decision is a matter of local control. Those fighting this bill the most (School Board Association, ND United, Superintendents from large districts who already have armed school resource officers, etc.) are the first ones to the podium or TV microphone to push against any bill which may impact the local control of a school board. HB 1195 is no different than any other bill which seeks to empower (like this one) a school board with the authority and responsibility to decide what is right for their schools.
  2. Law enforcement can’t be everywhere they need to be at all times to prevent a crime from occurring. This is especially true in our smaller, rural school districts which are already in communities with law enforcement spread thin.  Those school boards now only have one choice — hope — as their primary security measure; hope that the drills work, hope that the kids don’t panic and forget what they were supposed to do during those drills, hope that the plan works, hope that the bad guy can’t get through those locked doors, hope that too many don’t get killed because the innocent can’t fight back while the cops come from miles and miles away…. you get the idea
…the best change the Legislature can give local school boards is the power to decide for themselves if an armed, trained, and screened concealed carry permit holder is a choice which is right for them. The state has no business making this decision for them through keeping the current law intact.
Hope isn’t a viable solution, especially for a small district who can’t access a school resource officer program like big urban districts can. We have to replace hope with change, and since the House killed HB 1388 (which would have given rural districts some “change” in the form of grants for school resource officers), the best change the Legislature can give local school boards is the power to decide for themselves if an armed, trained, and screened concealed carry permit holder is a choice which is right for them.

The state has no business making this decision for them through keeping the current law intact.

SB 2208– Retail leases and agreements and state holidays

House Industry, Business and Labor

Peace Garden Room

8:00am

Speaking of things which the state has no business regulating, SB 2208 falls into that category rather nicely. It is short and to the point, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is an inappropriate butting in of the state into contractual matters between private parties… simply because the state thinks they have some higher moral authority on such contracts. It reads:

SB2208

 

This bill is a mistake. It selectively decides which businesses can’t be forced to open on Thanksgiving (which apparently created a little butthurt last time) and Christmas; apparently if you don’t work retail your family time isn’t as important as those who do work retail. It places a Class A misdemeanor on any entity that does want Thanksgiving and Christmas to be part of a voluntary agreement between two parties, which is ridiculous. And speaking of voluntary agreements, it clouds the true meaning of that word voluntary — no one forced anyone to sign any store lease, franchise, or other agreement against their will.

If you don’t want to run a store in a mall or be a franchisee, don’t sign on the line. If you are an employee and don’t like working on those holidays, don’t go into retail. But then again, you better not go into other fields like medicine, law enforcement, the military; or quit and go to work in a restaurant or a convenience store. What this really comes down to is the retail employee is not any more special than anyone else who works, and is not entitled to any greater protection of their “family time” than any other employee. The retail owner, be it of a store franchise or mall store, isn’t any more special than a franchise restaurant or convenience store either.

The best way to shut down retail on those holidays is not to shop on those holidays. The availability of shopping on a holiday is in response to a market for it. If bricks and mortar won’t answer to that demand, then the online marketplace will be happy to oblige.

Other bills to be heard Monday:

SB 2134 will remove transparency from the evaluation process for the Chancellor and Presidents of Higher Education institutions. Most concerning is the language of the bill can be used to exempt pretty much any record in the possession of the NDUS from an Open Records request. That is simply improper in light of the incredible number of open records violations committed by the NDUS as a whole. The House Education Committee will hear this one at 9:00am in the Pioneer Room

SB 2217 is the Senate version of a bill improving ending fund balance transparency for local government boards. The House killed a similar one in the first half. House Finance and Taxation meets in the Fort Totten Room to discuss this at 9:30am.

SB 2274 requires certification actions be taken by chief law enforcement officers for ownership of certain firearms governed under the National Firearms Act. It passed the Senate unanimously, and there isn’t any reason anticipated preventing passage in the House by a comfortable margin. The House Judiciary Committee will hear this bill at 10:40am in the Prairie Room.

Tuesday, March 17th

HB 1303– Legislature setting tuition within the NDUS

Senate Education

Missouri River Room

11:00am

Last week, we discussed the hearings on the Higher Education email and IT system bills. While both bills were good, common sense legislation in their own right, the passage of those bills (if they have the will to do so) also means something much more meaningful and concrete. It means in part that the Senate, finally, is willing to quit being the enablers of bad behavior on the part of the NDUS.

In part.

It may even refocus that system on education instead of airplanes and bodyguards for Presidents.
Add to that list HB 1303, which will give the Legislature authority over the tuition rates in the NDUS. The House felt it made a lot of sense, passing it 59-31. This is not overreach on the part of the Legislature; the State Board of Higher Education likes to flaunt their self-perceived constitutional independence, and that same State Constitution states in Article VIII, Section 6, Paragraph 5 that “The legislature shall provide adequate funds for the proper carrying out of the functions and duties of the state board of higher education”.

Part of ensuring adequate funds are provided is to determine what role, and in what amounts, tuition is to play in the overall operating budgets of the system. If you read this blog, it should not come as a surprise that spending in higher education is out of control, and no amount of appropriation provided by the taxpayer is ever good enough. It would be one thing if the system produced results, but it is clear that isn’t the case either (two words… graduation rates). Whatever they can’t get from the Legislature they pass on to their customers — the student — in the form of higher tuition rates.

The Legislature did control tuition at one time as well, so this is not unprecedented. They ceded that control a few years back, and with it some of their ability to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities to both the higher education system and the taxpayer by determining how much from which funding streams constitutes adequate funding. More importantly, this bill will better insulate students from exorbitant higher education costs (and thus higher debt).

Most importantly, it will force the NDUS to actually live within a budget and prioritize, something everyone else has to do. It may even refocus that system on education instead of airplanes and bodyguards for Presidents.

For these reasons we see it imperative that the Senate pass this bill too, without amendment, as proof through action that they are (finally) serious about holding the NDUS accountable.

SB 2151 and HB 1410– Early Childhood Education/ Head Start

The House and Senate Education Committees both meet on Tuesday on these two bills pertaining to early childhood education and head start programs.  The House meets at 9:00am in the Pioneer Room, and the Senate meets at 9:05am in the Missouri River Room.

We have beat up this concept pretty good on SAB. They really have not had the impact advertised, and amount to little more than government funded babysitting. We don’t need to go into that again.

What is interesting is, once again, Rep Nathe and Sen Flakoll have somehow managed to schedule the hearings at the same time so there is simply no way concerned parents and other parties will be able to attend both… This no longer can be looked at coincidental. It can only be considered an appalling attempt by both committees and their chairs to circumvent public input and transparency
What is interesting is, once again, Rep Nathe and Sen Flakoll have somehow managed to schedule the hearings at the same time so there is simply no way concerned parents and other parties will be able to attend both. As we discussed last week, they did this with HB 1461 on Common Core bill and SB 2326 on student datamining in the first half. It happened again last week with SB 2326 and HB 1283 on parental rights for opting their children out of assessment testing.

This no longer can be looked at coincidental. It can only be considered an appalling attempt by both committees and their chairs to circumvent public input and transparency. If it really is coincidental, both these committee chairs are not paying attention like Legislators of their experience and supposed caliber should.

Other bills to be heard Tuesday:

HB 1280 is a study bill which, if passed, would determine if restructuring the Department of Human Services is in the best interest of the taxpayers. Senate Human Services will consider this bill at 10:30am in the Red River Room.

Stay tuned for Wednesday through Friday analysis later this week.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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