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Published December 24 2010

Lesser-known issues face North Dakota

BISMARCK – Proposed laws and changes to existing laws are stacking up with less than two weeks to go until the 2011 North Dakota Legislature begins.

Here’s a rundown of some of the lesser-known issues that will be considered this session:

School closings

House Bill 1030 relates to school closings for weather or other emergency conditions and state payments to school districts.

Any public school or district for which class rescheduling would create undue hardship may request that, for purposes of calculating state aid payments, the governor waive the rescheduling in whole or part.

The governor may not grant a waiver for less than a full day of instruction.

However, if a public school or district closes for only a portion of its regular day, the hours may be added together to determine the number of additional full days of instruction that may be waived.

Mental health/substance abuse

House Bill 1032 would create a mental health and substance abuse services pilot voucher payment program.

The state Department of Human Services would seek funding for the program from federal, special or other funding sources.

The program would allow a voucher to be submitted to the beneficiary’s provider of choice for payment of mental health and substance abuse services. The Department of Human Services would develop agreements with providers to supply services in exchange for the vouchers, which would then be presented to the department for payment.

The program would be developed to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services, including addiction treatment, counseling services, transition services, attendant care and safe beds.

Student opportunity site

Senate Bill 2056 would create a student opportunity website that would allow students to search for internships and scholarships available at or through the 11 public colleges under the North Dakota University System.

The website may also include student resources available at the state’s other colleges.

Indian education

House Bill 1049 would require the state Department of Public Instruction to conduct a study of Indian education issues to develop criteria for grants to low-performing schools.

The study would look at the extent poverty negatively affects student achievement.

It would also look at the extent that school structure and extended learning time – including extended school days and years, year-round school, summer school and afterschool programs – have on improving student achievement.

The state flag

House Bill 1097 would require the following:

To ensure historical accuracy, a person may not sell or represent a flag to be a reproduction of the flag of North Dakota unless the flag adheres to corresponding industry color chart codes according to matching specifications determined by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Finding other bills

You can find the full explanations of these bills and others by going to www.legis.nd.gov. Click on 62nd (2011) and then Legislation: 2011. Then click on House (or Senate) prefiled bills.


Teri Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.