BISMARCK — The North Dakota Legislature has approved a bill that gives the Boy Scouts of America and a few other youth groups special access to schools for recruitment.
The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts heavily pushed the proposal, which requires North Dakota public schools to offer a forum once a year for "youth patriotic" groups to pitch their organizations during the school day.
The Senate voted 39-8 mostly along party lines last week to pass House Bill 1356 after a lengthy debate. The upper chamber also rejected an amendment that would have only mandated that schools provide a platform for the organizations outside of instructional time.
The House of Representatives already approved the bill, which will go to Republican Gov. Doug Burgum for a signature.
Most supporters of the bill sung the praises of the Boy Scouts and shared stories of their involvement with the 111-year-old organization. They said providing the group a few minutes to recruit in schools could better the lives of students who choose to join after seeing a classroom pitch.
Several large school districts opposed the bill, saying the legislation would open the floodgates for all kinds of clubs to claim they're owed class time for recruitment. Fargo Public Schools board member Robin Nelson said during testimony that the bill is a misdirected effort "to benefit one organization that may be experiencing difficulty in recruiting and retaining membership."