To: Bishop Mark Narum
From: Murray Sagsveen, Synod Attorney
Subject: Status of Selected Legislation
Date: March 28, 2015
Monday, March 30, will be the 57nd legislative day. The following bills may be of interest to the synod:
House Bill 1241 – This bill, when introduced, would have allowed any person with a concealed weapons permit to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon in a church without first obtaining the permission of the church council or the “primary religious leader.” The House amended the bill to reinstate part of the current law (i.e., a person with a concealed weapons permit may possess a firearm or dangerous weapon in a church if authorized by the church council or the “primary religious leader”) and to slightly redefine “public gathering” (i.e, replace “churches or church functions” with “church”). The House passed the bill 67-26. The Senate hearing was March 19 in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I will monitor the committee’s action on the bill; if not further amended, it should not be a concern to the synod. The current bill language is at http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/bill-index/bi1241.html.
House Bill 1276 – This bill would have entitled an individual to take a $250 tax credit on the state income tax return for contributions to a nonprofit organization that is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (which would include a church). This bill failed in the House 32-59.
Senate Bill 2253 – This bill would provide a $2,250,000 appropriation to the ND Department of Human Services to expand the healthy families home visitation program in all ND human service regions during the 2015-2017 biennium. Although the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended “do not pass,” the Senate passed the bill 27-19. The House Human Services Committee hearing was March 9; the committee has not yet acted on the bill. The current bill language is at http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/bill-index/bi2253.html.
Senate Bill 2279 – This bill would afford important civil rights protections to LGBT citizens of this State. It would prohibit discrimination against an individual because of sexual orientation by employment agencies, labor organizations, employers, persons engaged in the provision of public accommodations, persons engaged in the provision of public services, persons who provide credit-related services, persons who sell or rent property, insurance organizations, and courts (in the jury selection process). The Senate passed the bill 25-22; the House Human Services Committee considered the bill on March 23, but has not yet take any action. The bill language is at http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/documents/15-0742-01000.pdf?20150321203145.
Senate Bill 2351 – This bill would, as an exemption to the corporate farming law, allow a domestic corporations or limited liability companies to own a small dairy or facility for the production of swine, provided the site of the operation did not exceed 640 acres. The Senate passed the bill 27-18; the House amended the bill and passed it 56-37; the Senate concurred with the House amendments 29-16; and the governor signed the bill on March 20. The ND Farmers Union plans to refer the bill. The final bill language is at http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/documents/15-0895-04000.pdf?20150321202550.
Pastors and members of a congregation may “lobby” legislators concerning pending legislation. If expressing a personal opinion, the pastor or members of a congregation should be careful to state (or something similar): “I am expressing my personal opinion and am not speaking on behalf of my employer, congregation, or synod.”
Individuals who “lobby” on the behalf of others may be required to register as a lobbyist with the ND Secretary of State. See http://sos.nd.gov/lobbyists.
Individuals may contact their legislators by email or telephone. Contact information for legislators is at http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/members/house for House members and http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/members/senate for Senate members.