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Abortion bills to jumpstart week in N.D. Capitol

BISMARCK On Monday, the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, North Dakota lawmakers will hold hearings on four bills that would restrict or outlaw abortion.

BISMARCK On Monday, the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, North Dakota lawmakers will hold hearings on four bills that would restrict or outlaw abortion.

The hearings jumpstart a week at the Legislature that also includes an evening session known as "Citizens Night."

The abortion bills will come one after another, starting at 8 a.m., in the House Judiciary Committee.

One, House Bill 1489, makes the intentional termination of a "preborn child" a Class AA felony murder at all times between the moment of fertilization and birth.

House Bill 1466 would outlaw abortion except to save the life of the mother, but would not take effect until the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that created a constitutional right to abortion.

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House Bill 1464 adds prescribing of abortion-inducing drugs to the definition of abortion and creates several new requirements about information doctors must tell women contemplating an abortion before the procedure can be performed.

The fourth, House Bill 1494, restricts use of public funds for prenatal genetic testing unless the testing is a precursor to treatment for the woman or the fetus.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Duane DeKrey, R-Pettibone, said he had not intended to schedule the bills on such a symbolic day.

"I did not know Monday was the Roe v. Wade anniversary," he said Friday in an e-mail message.

Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota will have representatives at the Capitol to testify against all four bills.

Planned Parenthood lobbyist Tim Stanley said HB 1489 is "patently unconstitutional."

Citizens' Night begins with tours of the Capitol from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by a few specially selected bill hearings in committees from 7 to 7:45 p.m. House and Senate will have floor sessions from 7:45 to 8:30 p.m.

Bills being heard in House committees include one on a youth deer hunting season and deer hunting age.

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The House may debate and vote on bills that evening restricting the height of motorcycle handles, and which deal with littering, starting school after Labor Day and a required North Dakota high school course. Hunting bills and a ban on smoking on the Capitol Grounds are also up for debate that evening.

In the Senate, an evening hearing is set on a bill that allows minors who have been drinking to be immune from prosecution if they call 911 for another minor who has been drinking and needs medical help.

Floor debate and votes in the Senate may be on organ donation, restrictions on funeral protests and one that would make the chokecherry the official state fruit.

Other issues this week:

Monday

-- Senate Bill 2257: Puts the state's workers compensation agency under the control of the governor instead of being governed by an independent board. 8:30 a.m. in Senate Industry, Business and Labor.

-- House Bill 1040: Restricts protests at funerals gets a hearing in Senate Judiciary at 9 a.m. The bill has already passed the House.

-- House Bill 1438: School can't begin until after Labor Day. 9 a.m., House Education Committee.

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Tuesday-- House Bill 1521: Prohibits college tuition increase, House Appropriations at 9 a.m.

-- House Bill 1261: Restrictions on names of school districts. In addition to the required phrase "school district" or "public school district," the names could have "no more than two additional words." House Education Committee hearing at 2 p.m.

-- Senate Bill 2260: Requires a criminal history record check for someone seeking a name change. Hearing is 9 a.m. in Senate Judiciary.

Wednesday-- Senate Bill 2324: Lowers the age of eligibility for homestead tax credit from 65 to 62, and allows those with incomes of up to $14,000 to get a 100 percent homestead tax credit instead of current $8,500. 9 a.m. in Senate Finance and Tax.

-- Senate Bill 2195: Adds cell phone text messages to the do-not-call law. 9:30 a.m., Senate Industry and Business Labor Committee.

-- Senate Bill 2256: Bans registered sex offenders from school property, 9 a.m. Senate Judiciary.

-- House Bill 1454: Raises the minimum wage to $6.15; on Jan. 1, 2009, raises it to $7 if employees are 19 or older. Exceptions for small business and small communities. House Industry, Business and Labor, 8 a.m.

Thursday-- House Bill 1329: $250,000 for the maintenance or preservation of a Cold War missile silo near Cooperstown, N.D. House Government and Veterans Affairs, 8 a.m.

-- House Bill 1254: Ticketing solely for not wearing a seat belt primary offense. 10:30 a.m. House Transportation.

Friday

-- House Bill 1196: Minors can't use a cell phone while driving. 10 a.m. House Transportation.

-- House Concurrent Resolution 3009: Study a state-owned oil refinery. 8 a.m., House Government and Veterans Affairs.

Cole reports on North Dakota government and politics for Forum Communications, which owns the Herald.

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