ND lawmakers convene in special session, advance bills banning critical race theory, vaccine mandates

State News

North Dakota lawmakers reconvened for a special session Monday to consider redistricting, federal COVID relief money allocation and several social-issue bills.

House and Senate committees voted on about 25 bills and resolutions.

Only a few are advancing — among them, one bans critical race theory in schools and two others restrict vaccine mandates.

A few dozen people packed the House Delayed Bills committee room as lawmakers pitched their bills in a rapid-fire hearing.

“This bill is designed to be plain and simple. It is designed to prohibit the teaching in any way shape or form in our school system in the state of North Dakota of critical race theory,” Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) said.

The committee passed that bill 3-2 along party lines.

Another one that passed says parents are the “chief stakeholders of the education of their children.”

“This resolution is a huge win for both sides of the aisle to clear the air about who is in control of their child’s future,” Rep. Cole Christensen (R) Rogers said.

House and Senate Majority Leaders say they support those bills.

“This is a divisive thing that’s creating controversy between the people of different ethnic backgrounds and that doesn’t belong in our schools, not at all,” Sen. Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said.

Two bills limiting vaccine mandates got the green light.

So did one outlining a patient’s right to try off-label drugs, like the deworming drug ivermectin.

Minot Rep. Jeff Hoverson is participating remotely because he says he has COVID, and he’s taking ivermectin.

“Every time I would take my ivermectin I would increase in my composure, my health and even my O2 levels every day,” Hoverson said.

In total, eight pieces of legislation from the House and one from the Senate will advance to another committee.

Some may even receive a vote on Tuseday afternoon.

Lawmakers are continuing to work on the bills allocating the $700 million in American Rescue Plan Act money and redistricting.

Neither of those came to a vote Monday.

The bills that did not advance from committee will still have a shot at being introduced and voted on.

But they’ll have a higher two-thirds vote threshold, instead of the simple majority needed to pass the ones that already got the OK from the committee.

Lawmakers say they’ll be working late into the night every day this week and still aim to finish by Friday night.

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