BISMARCK-Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill this week shielding applicants for public jobs in North Dakota, legislation that has been decried by the state's news organizations.

The new law makes any records that could identify an applicant for a job with a "public entity" confidential until at least three finalists are designated. A public entity is required to designate three or more finalists if it receives applications from three or more qualified applicants.

Burgum signed the bill Thursday, March 30, his spokesman Mike Nowatzki said.

Burgum's signature wasn't a surprise, given one of his staffers testified in favor of the bill, introduced by Sen. Lonnie Laffen, R-Grand Forks. But opponents said it was too broad and would cover every public job in the state, and one lawmaker called it an "assault" on the people's right to know about their government's actions.

Supporters said the bill would provide some privacy to those seeking work here and improve the talent pool for public jobs.

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The Senate defeated a narrower bill this week shielding applicants for chancellor of the North Dakota University System and university presidents.

House passes child care license bill

The North Dakota House passed legislation Monday requiring child care providers to file a renewal application at least two months before their current license expires.

Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, cited the June 2015 drowning of a 5-year-old girl in Velva, N.D. The license for the child care center that was caring for the child at the time had expired a week before.

Porter said the state's licensing procedure allowed for applications to be sent just before licenses expire.

"So if your license expired Dec. 31, you sent your stuff in Dec. 30 and then around March you would get your license back," he said. "And it wouldn't talk about those two or three months in there while they were processing your license."

Senate Bill 2090 requires child care providers to submit a renewal application and fees between 60 and 90 days before the expiration of their current license. If they don't meet that 60-day deadline, the fees double.

The bill passed the House in a 73-19 vote after the Senate approved a different version unanimously in January. The bill is now headed to a conference committee, where lawmakers will hash out their differences.

Senate passes athlete prayer bill

The North Dakota Senate passed legislation Friday that was spurred by controversy over the lack of pre-game prayers at a high school event.

House Bill 1275 came in response to a 2015 incident in which Fargo Shanley High School and another Christian school were prevented from broadcasting prayers before a football playoff game.

The Senate on Friday passed an amended version of the bill that says a student of a public or nonpublic school can't be prohibited from voluntarily participating in any "student-initiated prayer" at an athletic activity held on school premises. A previous version said the North Dakota High School Activities Association couldn't prohibit a parochial or private school from offering a prayer before an athletic activity on the school's premises.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the House would agree to the Senate's changes.

Senate passes election study

North Dakota lawmakers may study moving local elections to the general election under a resolution approved by the state Senate Thursday.

House Concurrent Resolution 3016, introduced by Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier, requests a legislative study of whether the state should move city and other local elections from June in even-numbered years to the general election in November during even-numbered years.

The resolution argues holding local elections alongside primary votes for congressional and legislative representatives "may cause confusion." It also says city councils must prepare preliminary budgets by September, leaving new city leaders little time to get up to speed after being elected a couple of months prior.

The legislation already passed the House and resolutions don't require the governor's signature.