District 43 lawmakers told constituents on Saturday they've had both a difficult and fruitful few months in Bismarck.
"I have tough days, whenever there's a women's issue coming up. We struggle as a caucus, too," said Rep. Mary Adams, one of three Democrats her district elected in November to replace a formerly all-Republican group.
Adams was joined by Sen. JoNell Bakke and Rep. Matt Eidson for a legislative forum at Sharon Lutheran Church, during which the legislators discussed recent abortion and property-tax related bills.
Bakke told attendees the Senate has received three abortion-related proposals from the House, including a resolution calling on the federal government to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and another bill requiring doctors to inform women of a process to potentially reverse a pill-induced abortion.
"There is no scientific evidence that this works," Bakke said of the reversal process. "There's some anecdotal situations where doctors tried it, and it has (worked). And there are also places where doctors tried it and it hasn't worked."
Bakke also mentioned House Concurrent Resolution 3037 on rescinding the state's 1975 support of the Equal Rights Amendment.
"I asked Republican senators what their position was on that, because I want to make sure we can kill this when it gets up for a vote," she said. "I had one Republican Senator say 'absolutely,' they'll help kill it, but another one said 'no, we need to get this through! Because women don't have any issues in North Dakota anymore, and it was for women at work. And women are okay.'"
Bakke added she heard some Republicans support HCR 3037 as a "sexual orientation" statement, meaning they wish to withdraw the state's roughly 44-year old support for the ERA to avoid supporting rights for North Dakotan members of the LGBT community.
"It's embarrassing," she said. "It's embarrassing at the national level if this comes out of (the Senate)."
Eidson said he was excited the Legislature passed House Bill 1066, also dubbed the Prairie Dog bill, to provide infrastructure funding for non-oil-producing communities in North Dakota.
"We saw a lot of really bad ideas when it comes to property taxes, which luckily all got killed when they came out of committee, not the least of which was to put a cap on how high political subdivisions can raise a property tax," Eidson said. "But I think that the Prairie Dog bill has a really good chance to alleviate some of the stress that comes with property taxes, because we see a jump in property taxes when it comes to infrastructure issues. And now we're actually going to be designating some (infrastructure funding) from that oil boom."
District 17 talks Roosevelt library and cyberbullying
In District 17, Sen. Ray Holmberg and Reps. Mark Sanford and Mark Owens, all Republicans, held a forum at the Red Pepper along on South Washington Street.
Holmberg said the Senate Appropriations Committee he chairs heard from Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday, who shared his proposal to help fund the construction of a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora.
Senators have yet to reach a consensus on the library, according to Holmberg, but he added that they're discussing ways the state can avoid spending taxpayer dollars on brick and mortar construction.
One idea is to set aside $50 million from the Legacy Fund, let it accumulate interest and use those earnings on the library.
"And probably not a penny would come out for the next few years, because they have to build it and earn it," Holmberg said. "It's one of those issues that I don't think is going to be resolved until the last days of the session. People will say it's dead and it's never coming back, but if the governor has a high priority item, he is the governor and he will continue to bring that to the forefront."
In the House, Rep. Mark Owens discussed bills that have to do with North Dakota school districts. When asked how he feels about Senate Bill 2181 to prohibit cyberbullying, which the House Education Committee heard on Wednesday, Owens shared concerns he has with the implementation of such legislation.
"The bill's gonna have to change, because the way it's written now, how is a school going to do an investigation?" Owens said. "They have no police authority, so how do you go and capture somebody's computer and review the hard drive? How do you do that?"