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Janell Cole, Published April 11 2009

Campus gun measure dies on tie vote in Senate

BISMARCK – Gun possession rights won’t be expanded on North Dakota college campuses, the state Senate decided by the closest of votes Friday.

House Bill 1348 died on a 23-23 tally, with one member absent. In the Legislature, a bill loses on a tie vote.

The bill would have allowed people with concealed weapons permits to have guns in their campus apartments, something that is now prohibited.

The House passed the bill 48-46 in February.

Sen. Carolyn Nelson, D-Fargo, said the state’s colleges and universities already have gun possession regulations that recognize residents can legally own guns and keep guns available for hunting. Students are allowed to store guns in special storage units on campus that are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are also allowed to store guns in their car trunk, Nelson said.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem, R-Bis-marck, asked the Senate at the end of Friday’s floor session for a clincher motion on all the action taken Friday. That virtually guarantees HB 1348 won’t be revived on a motion-to-reconsider Monday.

Home-school law

The House on Friday struggled over whether to allow parents who have only a high school education to home-school their children without supervision of public school authorities. Current law prohibits parents who don’t have a college degree from teaching their own children without supervision or monitoring from their local public school district officials.

Representatives eventually passed House Bill 1171 on a 51-38 vote, agreeing to concur with the Senate’s version of the bill. Friday’s debate took place even though the House earlier passed the bill by a wider margin when it would have loosened the law even more.

The bill as passed by the House in February on a

61-33 vote set no education qualifications for parents to teach their children without school officials’ supervision.

Several legislators with public school teaching and administration backgrounds objected Friday to loosening the regulations.

“In a time we are asking (licensed) classroom teachers to become more and more qualified, we’re lowering this to a high school diploma,” said Rep. Lois Delmore, D-Grand Forks. “If we want children in home schools to continue to do well, I think we need some training qualifications.”

Rep. Darrell Nottestad,

R-Grand Forks, agreed. “Lowering it is not the way to go.”

Day care bill

The House passed a bill Friday with several changes in regulations for day care providers, including criminal background checks for most people licensed to operate and work in child care.

Even though Senate Bill 2162 passed 62-29, it may contain a flaw that lawmakers will have to fix in conference committee negotiations with senators.

The bill’s definition of child care – providing care at least two hours a day for three or more days a week – could conceivably apply to some adolescents’ baby-sitting jobs, said Rep. Kari Conrad, D-Minot. She said the House Human Services Committee struggled to find wording that wouldn’t apply to baby-sitting and, “I’m sure this is going to be a conference committee issue.”

School reform

The House has refused to concur with changes the Senate made this week in the main school reform bill, House Bill 1400.

The development was expected, and the bill will go to a conference committee. House conferees will be Rep. Rae Ann Kelsch,

R-Mandan, chairwoman of the House Education Committee; Rep. John Wall,

R-Wahpeton, and Rep. Phil Mueller, D-Valley City.

The Senate conferees will be appointed next week.

Tax search warrant bill

A bill that makes it harder for law enforcement officials to get a search warrant for a taxpayer’s income tax returns got final passage Friday and is on its way to the governor for signature.

The House accepted Senate amendments to House Bill 1088 and passed it

82-7.

The Tax Department asked for the bill after Cass County authorities sought and obtained a search warrant on the tax returns of Peter Spacek of West Fargo, who is charged with theft and racketeering.

Law enforcement officials testified against the bill.


Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830.