Sisters and Brothers,
It’s now six weeks into the North Dakota legislative session and things are slowing down. As we come into crossover, many bills that we have pushed for have been defeated and some we tried to defeat have passed the house. Though this seems grim news, the truth is that most of the worst potential changes are not making it through. So far, we haven’t gained much, but we haven’t lost much either. Unemployment insurance and WSI remains basically unchanged. The rights of workers, though still at risk, remain largely the same.
We are hardly finished yet though. Funding for public employees and higher education are still at serious risk, along with several detrimental proposals to our school systems, and attacks on working people’s rights are still likely. The AFL-CIO along with affiliates like North Dakota United, Unions of the Building Trades and others will stand against every negative bill out there.
We just urge union members and working people across the sate to remember how their legislators are voting. The best way we are going to affect real change is to get more working friendly people into the legislature in the next few elections.
On to the bills:
Let’s start with some good news. HB 1432, the bill that dismissed standards written by North Dakota teachers in favor of old Massachusetts’s standards and others, was defeated on the House floor after the bill was split in two. Our educators are experts on what should be taught, and this bill would have stripped them of the authority to create excellent standards and given that power to the legislature.
HB 1382 is Rep. Rick Becker’s voucher bill that NDU is firmly against. Vouchers take money from public schools to fund private schools. Public schools are for everyone, and we can’t continue to siphon money out of them and expect no harm to come to our students. Fortunately, the House Education Committee amended the bill into a study and it’s on the calendar for a full House vote.
We also got some good news on the Senate side. SB 2186 was carried by NDU member Senator Erin Oban. The bill will allow for exciting new options in teaching and learning, and the Senate passed the bill unanimously 44-0.
For a more complete description of what affected our public employees and teachers last week, please visit NDU’s legislative update at the following link.
HB-1193 passed the House last week. Again, this would potentially create a felony out of a minor misdemeanor if the person involved was also trying to cause direct or indirect economic harm. This anti-protestor bill may sound logical until one realizes that every strike or picket or demonstration also could fall under the definition of causing economic harm. That is the nature of these activities. Every pro-life demonstrator is trying to shut down family planning clinics. Every striker or picketer is trying to put economic pressure on companies. This is what they do.
This law could easily make felons out of strikers who temporarily block a plant entrance, or commit other very minor infractions. These workers could then face prison time and loss of gun rights among other penalties for these minor crimes.
We cannot stand for any reduction in our constitutional rights. Look below for how you representative voted on this important bill.
HB 1193 comes to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday at 10:00.
HB 1197 dealt with restrictions on asbestos claims and was heard in the House judiciary Committee. Though the initial version of this bill was terrible, through negotiations, it was whittled down to a far less harmful form. Though still not perfect, many of us feel this was the best that could be done with the current legislature.
And last was HB 1386. As many of us know this would have granted LGBT workers and their families protection against being fired, or denied housing for being who they are. All unions should take a firm stand against any type of worker discrimination, and a firmer stand against our opponent’s strategy of turning workers against other workers.
HB 1386 went down in the house on Friday in spite of several attempts at different strategies by Representative Boschee. Defenders of this bill included Representative Hanson and Beadle with the latter giving a particularly good defense. In spite of the admission by the chairman of the Human Services Committee that discrimination exists and is harming workers, the House voted to refuse protections to our LGBT workers.
As the world changes, North Dakota refuses to acknowledge that these changes are critical to keeping the workforce we have and bringing new industry to the state. Instead of trying to follow the lead of worker and business friendly states like our neighbor Minnesota, we sadly appear to be following the lead of Mississippi in 1964.
Again, look at the voting record below and hold these legislators accountable.
Please study how your representatives voted and don’t be shy about letting them know how you feel. There are many new representatives from formerly union friendly districts that need to know what workers need.
HB 1193 Making a felony out of a misdemeanor if committed while causing minor economic harm
(Yeas are against Labor and Nays are for)
YEAS: Anderson, D.; Beadle; Becker, Rich S.; Blum; Boehning; Bosch; Brabandt; Brandenburg; Carlson; Damschen; Delzer; Dockter; Ertelt; Grueneich; Hatlestad; Headland; Heinert; Howe; Johnson, C.; Johnson, D.; Johnston; Jones; Karls; Kasper; Keiser; Kempenich; Kiefert; Klemin; Koppelman, B.; Koppelman, K.; Laning; Lefor; Longmuir; Louser; Magrum; Maragos; Marschall; Martinson; McWilliams; Meier; Monson; Nathe; O'Brien; Oliver; Olson; Owens; Paur; Pollert; Porter; Pyle; Roers Jones; Rohr; Ruby, D.; Ruby, M.; Sanford; Satrom; Schatz; Schmidt; Schobinger; Schreiber-Beck; Seibel; Skroch; Steiner; Streyle; Sukut; Toman; Trottier; Vigesaa; Weisz; Westlind; Zubke; Speaker Bellew
NAYS: Anderson, P.; Becker, Rick C.; Boe; Boschee; Delmore; Dobervich; Guggisberg; Hanson; Hogan; Holman; Johnson, M.; Kading; Mitskog; Mock; Nelson, J.; Nelson, M.; Schneider; Simons; Vetter
HB 1386 Cutting maximum week of unemployment
(Yeas are for Labor and nays are against)
YEAS : Anderson, P.; Beadle; Blum; Boe; Boehning; Boschee; Delmore; Dobervich; Guggisberg; Hanson; Hogan; Holman; Johnson, M.; Keiser; Maragos; Martinson; Mitskog; Mock; O'Brien; Roers Jones; Sanford; Schneider
NAYS: Anderson, B.; Anderson, D.; Becker, Rich S.; Becker, Rick C.; Bosch; Brabandt; Brandenburg; Carlson; Damschen; Delzer; Devlin; Dockter; Ertelt; Grueneich; Hatlestad; Headland; Heinert; Howe; Johnson, C.; Johnson, D.; Johnston; Jones; Kading; Karls; Kasper; Kempenich; Kiefert; Klemin; Koppelman, B.; Koppelman, K.; Laning; Lefor; Longmuir; Louser; Magrum; Marschall; McWilliams; Meier; Monson; Nathe; Nelson, J.; Oliver; Olson; Owens; Paur; Pollert; Porter; Rohr; Ruby, D.; Ruby, M.; Satrom; Schatz; Schmidt; Schobinger; Schreiber-Beck; Seibel; Simons; Skroch; Steiner; Streyle; Sukut; Toman; Trottier; Vetter; Vigesaa; Weisz; Westlind; Zubke; Speaker Bellew