During the recent legislative session, Democratic-NPL legislators helped pass a collection of criminal justice reforms that keep our communities safe while also helping rebuild lives and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently and effectively.
Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo, successfully championed a "ban the box" bill to give people with criminal backgrounds a better chance at employment. Rep. Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, and Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck, co-sponsored a bill to seal the criminal records of individuals who have kept a clean slate for so many years after non-violent offenses, which will help them gain employment, housing and professional licensing.
Rep. Ruth Buffalo, D-Fargo, sharpened the state's focus on missing and murdered indigenous people with a package of bills, including a remedy to the fact that North Dakota doesn't have a missing person's database.
I introduced legislation, later rolled into another bill, that establishes a pretrial services pilot program, the next phase of our Justice Reinvestment reforms. Pretrial services will save taxpayer dollars on incarceration costs and connect defendants with needed services earlier.
Thanks to leadership from Sen. Kathy Hogan, D-Fargo, Schneider and other legislators, we also strengthened how the state helps children who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.
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Unfortunately, however, some members of the majority party proposed bills that would have undermined public safety, had they passed.
Rep. Jeff Magrum, R-Hazelton, introduced a dangerous Stand Your Ground bill. Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, wanted to prohibit sobriety checkpoints, one of the tools to stop drunk drivers, and tried to stop law enforcement from enforcing violations of federal firearm laws, like laws that say violent criminals shouldn’t own guns.
Rep. Sebastian Ertelt, R-Lisbon, wanted to defy federal rule by legalizing bump stocks. And Reps. Ertelt and Becker, along with Reps. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, and Pat Heinert, R-Bismarck, tried a variety of ways to allow people to carry a concealed weapon into public places like schools, college campuses, churches and sporting events. Dem-NPL legislators helped defeat these misguided ideas.
Safe communities are a priority for all of us. I'm glad we advanced legislation that supports — rather than undermines — this important goal.
Rose Hanson, Fargo, represents District 44 in the North Dakota House of Representatives