In their first meeting with constituents of District 43, state Rep. Mary Adams and state Sen. JoNell Bakke, both Democrats from Grand Forks, spent Saturday morning discussing bills they've introduced and bills they support.
District 43 is hosting an informational session at Sharon Lutheran Church on the third Saturday of each month except for April, when a session is scheduled for April 13. Other Grand Forks districts will host sessions in their respective districts on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 10 a.m., and are in the process of scheduling sessions for March.
Adams is the primary sponsor behind four bills, including one to prevent animal cruelty, one requiring e-cigarette companies to disclose their nicotine levels and another requiring home sellers to disclose all radon hazards.
The House judiciary meeting will hear the radon bill on Tuesday. The House Agriculture Committee will hearing the animal cruelty bill on Thursday. The nicotine bill was referred to the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee with no scheduled hearing as of Saturday.
Bakke is the primary sponsor behind five bills, including a bill to terminate parental rights for a rapist when a child is conceived by rape. The Senate voted to approve that bill on Thursday.
Bakke also introduced a bill to prohibit discrimination against members of the LGBT community. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear that bill Wednesday morning.
"The bottom line is I'm going to keep presenting it every year I'm there until these people realize you can't discriminate against people," Bakke said. "This is the civil rights issue of this generation."
Rep. Mary Johnson, R-Fargo, has introduced a similar bill in the House that only pertains to discrimination in housing and work. It also fails to consider include transgender residents in the proposed protections. There is no hearing scheduled for this bill yet, but it was referred to the House Human Services Committee.
Both Bakke and Adams agreed the House's biggest bill yet was one to repeal North Dakota's blue laws. It passed 56-35 on the House floor Thursday.
Adams is a member of the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee that reviewed and recommended passing the bill.
"People leave church on Sunday morning, and where do a lot of people go? They go to brunch. Now, that waitress has to work Sunday morning so you can have breakfast," Adams said.
You can go get gas. You can go to the grocery store. That's fine, (but) even with the law (employees) have to work ... Why are we picking on those people?"
During the hearing, she said she heard testimony from many religious pastors against passing the bill.
"So we're not honoring the Seventh Day Adventist religion by closing on Saturdays? Or the Jewish people?" Adams said.
In the Senate, Bakke said she's eager to see what will happen to a bill from Sen. Curt Kreun, R-Grand Forks. His bill would make it a primary offense to not wear a seat belt, meaning officers can pull a car over if they catch a driver or passenger not wearing a seat belt.
The bill tied twice in the Senate Transportation Committee, meeting Senators will have to vote on the bill with no recommendation.
"A lot of people feel the government shouldn't tell them what they can and can't do," said Bakke, who sits on the Transportation Committee. "A lot of the small town people are saying, in the rural areas, 'If I go from my house to the post office, it's three blocks. I don't want to have to wear my seat belt. But if I go from my small town of, say, Mayville to Grand Forks, I'll wear my seat belt.'"
Bakke said she voted in favor of passing Kreun's bill because it was a "matter of life."
"(We had) people come in and (we heard) about the number of deaths that have happened simply because people didn't have a seat belt on," she said.