Bill that would criminalize ‘false and frivolous’ accusations against public employees fails Senate

Roers: Bill is unnecessary due to existing criminal penalties for filing false accusations

North Dakota Capitol
North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Forum file photo

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Senate voted 8-39 on Tuesday to defeat a bill that would criminalize "false and frivolous" accusations of discrimination or harassment made against public employees.

House Bill 1256, which had previously passed the House 53-41, was introduced by Rep. Eric Murphy, R-Grand Forks. The bill states that "an individual
18 years of age or older is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, if that individual makes an allegation of sexual harassment or of discrimination based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, or religious affiliation against another individual under the policy of a public institution and the allegation is found to have no basis in fact or law."

The bill received a 3-2 "do not pass" recommendation from the Senate Human Services Committee prior to arriving on the floor.

Sen. Kristin Roers, R-Fargo, and a member of the committee, spoke in opposition, stating the bill is unnecessary given existing criminal penalties for filing false statements.

"The criminal code covers false statements, and the question our committee asked was 'why is this needed,'" Roers said.


Roers also expressed concern about the potential for conflict between new federal laws addressing the topic set to take effect in May, and state law.

"One of the questions we asked ourselves, is if we pass this today, would this now be in conflict with those new regulations?" Roers said. "We could have a situation where our universities could be stuck in the middle between the federal regulations they are subject to, and this potential state law."

Banish covers news pertaining to K-12 and higher education, as well as county commission coverage.
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