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Lawmakers working in ‘Anti-Vaccine Mandate’ bill for special session

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 3:33 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - With the amount of time lawmakers will be meeting for a special session seemingly increasing, lawmakers are continuing to add topics. Party leadership is trying to keep a lid on how much is brought forward, but they can only do so much. And some lawmakers are already working on their priorities.

Redistricting, Biden Bucks, and fixing a bill which restricts spending federal dollars.

But with the possibility of two sessions becoming a more likely option, some see these next few months as a window of opportunity to get their issues back on the docket.

Despite a special session being prompted by a specific topic, any lawmaker can add to the to-do list. Any bill can be submitted, but it must be approved by the Delayed Bills Committee, which includes ranking members of the legislature.

This is how management hopes to keep control over the vote list.

“I’m sure that everyone got ideas on what would be great to bring up. I mean, gosh, I’d loe to bring 10 bills up. I think we need to stay focused on the important business at hand,” said Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck.

While some try to keep session limited to what’s already planned, others in the chambers have their own plans.

Any member can bypass the Delayed Bills Committee, and bring it directly to the floor for all members to debate without any hurdles from leadership.

“It’s kind of interesting out there in the public right now. You’ve got people on both sides of several different issues. Especially the social freedom issues,” said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson.

It’s not common to take this route, but it has happened recently.

During the recent session, Rep. Sebastian Ertlet, R-Lisbon, brought a bill banning so-called vaccine passports.

That bill failed, but Ertelt told Your News Leader he’s considering trying that method again to ban employer vaccine mandates.

“I’d certainly like to see it beforehand. I mean, especially with the employer vaccine mandates. Those are obviously affecting people in the very near future,” said Ertelt.

Some ranking members don’t see these extra topics just as a means of extending how much time is spent in the chambers.

They see some of these issues, like a vaccine mandate bill, as harmful.

“There’s a lot of distraction conversation coming from a certain faction of the Republican Caucus that wants to prioritize things that are not real issues to North Dakota,” said House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, D-Fargo.

Ertelt said some within the legislature are already working on the legislation, and hope to have another special session before redistricting to present it.

In order for a delayed bill like a vaccine mandate ban to be voted on, it must first receive a 2/3 majority from its respective chamber, and then they can debate the matter.

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