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N.D. fines for traffic to remain

BISMARCK - Ed Gruchalla, a former Highway Patrol sergeant and now a legislator, just wanted to have North Dakota's traffic fines join the 21st Century.

BISMARCK - Ed Gruchalla, a former Highway Patrol sergeant and now a legislator, just wanted to have North Dakota's traffic fines join the 21st Century.

But the North Dakota House decided the 1956 traffic fines he ridiculed are just fine.

On a 68-21 vote Tuesday, the House voted down Gruchalla's House Bill 1113, which would have more than doubled the $20 fines on most moving violations and hiked speeding fines to a uniform $5 fine for every mile per hour over the posted limit.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield, told the House that the only people testifying in favor of the higher fines were law enforcement officials from home rule cities who already have much steeper fines than the state fines.

They wanted the Legislature to raise the state fines "so they could increase their fines even more," Weisz charged.


He said that in rural areas, half the traffic crashes in the state are from hitting deer.

"I don't think raising the fines is going to stop the deer" from crossing roads, he said.

Bill barely advances

The House narrowly approved a bill Tuesday that would allow counties to have voting at a few "voting centers" instead of at dozens of precincts scattered around the countryside.

The vote to send House Bill 1378 on to the Senate for its consideration was 48-42.

Supporters say the bill will alleviate voters' Election Day confusion about what precinct they live in and where the polling place is for their precinct.

Anyone in the county could go to any of a few voting centers, depending on what is most convenient to them, no matter what precinct they live in. Poll workers would help them there if they do not know their precincts, and their votes would still be counted according to their precincts. A new electronic state central voter file that is being developed to comply with federal law would prevent people from trying to vote more than once.

The bill now goes to the Senate.


Minimum wage OK'd

Two versions of minimum wage bills heard by the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee were discarded Tuesday in favor of a new one.

The committee voted 7-5 on a do-not-pass recommendation for House Bill 1337 sponsored by Rep. Steve Zaiser, D-Fargo.

Instead, legislators added a hog house amendment to House Bill 1454 sponsored by Rep. Mark Owens, R-Grand Forks.

The bill now is the same as one sponsored by Sen. Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck, which ties North Dakota's minimum wage with the federal minimum wage if that passes.

The House IBL Committee voted 8-5 to give a do-pass recommendation to the new bill.

Tanning bill

A bill that would regulate tanning salons and decide how old someone must be to indoor tan is ready for debate on the House floor.


An amended House Bill 1154 recently received a do-pass recommendation on an 8-3-1 vote from the House Human Services Committee.

The bill originally banned teens younger than 16 from using tanning salons.

The amended bill says customers under 18 may not use tanning salons without written consent from a parent or guardian.

Customers younger than 14 would not be allowed to use a tanning salon without a written order from a physician.

The bill received a "do pass" from House Appropriations earlier this week on a 17-6-1 vote.

Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. Finneman

is a reporter for The Forum.

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