North Dakota AFl-CIO Legislature Watch - Week 7

Sisters and Brothers,

Seven weeks into the session and we are still ticking. Things are slowing down as we approach the crossover, but it is not over by any means.  As much as we may want it to be…

This next week, we have the AFL-CIO Legislative Conference starting at 8:00 am Tuesday, February 21st and open to all affiliate members. We are going to open with legislative updates from various affiliates and the AFL-CIO itself. These will cover what we have lost, what we have gained and what still is to be done. After lunch, we will be joining Farmers Union for Wellstone training. This is the nation’s best training program for instructing rank and file citizens to really make a difference in government at all levels and I urge every member to come and partake. On Wednesday, we’ll be putting that training into action at the capital.

This should be an interesting week.

As to what happened this last week, we saw HB 1193 (the economic harm bill) crossover to the Senate Judiciary Committee. As I’ve talked about before, this bill as written, though disguised as an anti DAPL protestor bill, would really have a chilling effect on any protest, strike or rally. Since causing economic harm is a basic part of every protest, 1193 would use the fact that people are protesting or striking or demonstrating as a magnifier to any misdemeanor they may commit and change it to a felony. Understand that the misdemeanors they include are “making unreasonable noise” and “use of obscene language”.  

Anyone ever been to a silent protest? Wouldn’t all forms of chants, songs or yells be considered unreasonable to someone?

I testified against this and the senate committee seemed to understand the serious implications and expressed interest in narrowing the language of this bill. However, we are going to continue to put pressure on them to make certain that we maintain the freedoms our ancestors fought for so long.

In addition, HB 1248 actually passed committee with a Do Pass recommendation and will be voted on the house floor this week. This libertarian plague ship of an idea would allow landowners to form prosperity zones throughout the state, which would be set up to avoid as many regulations as possible. That’s their purpose… to avoid regulation. I know that may sound good but remember that worker’s compensation is a regulation… as are worker’s safety laws, health and safety standards, speed limits in school zones, education standards, food quality standards and about a billion other things that we depend on every day.

Here is what the state’s own fiscal note says. “A prosperity district becomes the sole governing political subdivision, and it replaces all state laws above the baseline of the North Dakota Constitution, common law, criminal law and existing compacts… Its regulatory authority is limited.”

The stated goal is to upgrade it to nullify most federal laws too.

I can see our future now, driving down Interstate 94 and passing dozens of “Prosperity Zones” consisting of Neo-Nazi enclaves, fields of marijuana and industrial-scale meth labs. Ooh boy! Prosperity will be here at last!

So…this bill is insane… And it passed the committee with a Do Pass recommendation. Yeah… Really. We may be calling for action to stop this potential travesty form landing. Please pay attention.

You can also find North Dakota United’s legislative update here.

We’ll talk more about these bills and others Tuesday morning.

Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
(701) 595-3334