District 23 legislators highlight bills, priorities at halfway point

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 12:54 PM CST
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - Legislators around Williston had a chance to speak with their constituents and provide an update on their work at the Capitol.

The three elected officials in District 23 are fairly new to state politics, but it hasn’t stopped them from having a hand in some of the most controversial bills this session.

“A boy walking into a girl’s bathroom has already perpetrated an abusive and intrusive act,” said Dyk.

Despite being very vocal on his sponsored bill inside the Capitol, Rep. Scott Dyk had little to say to the public during the legislative review roundtable. The bill in question, House Bill 1522, prohibits a public school student from using a bathroom that doesn’t coincide with their biological sex. It’s currently being looked at in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Sen. Todd Beard has been working with other legislators on bills that he said would keep sexually explicit material away from children. Beard is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 2360, which would penalize public entities like schools and libraries if they have any material that is considered “sexually explicit.”

“You have a responsibility. If you are going to make this material available, you need to ensure that it’s not made available to kids and there is some pretty graphic stuff out there,” said Beard.

Not everyone in the region is on board with these proposals. District 23 Dem-NPL Chairwoman Luann Casler said their time would be better spent on more relevant subjects.

“I really, honestly, do not understand where they are coming from with these bills. I can’t believe that this is how they are spending their 80 days when there’s so much more they could be doing,” said Casler.

The district’s other representative, Nico Rios, is a sponsor of House Bill 1213, which would require a court to reimburse a defendant if they were found not guilty of a crime due to self-defense. It narrowly passed the House and faces a steep challenge in the Senate.

“I have a little bit more work to do with the self-defense bill. I’m pretty sure more people will try to oppose or testify against it,” said Rios.

Other bills sponsored by members of District 23 that are still alive at crossover include Senate Bill 2122, which creates a study into changing the funding formula for TrainND facilities; House Bill 1363, which modifies the duty of final disposition to prevent giving power to a spouse that may have killed the person; and Senate Bill 2311, which provides some landowners protections against construction liens.

When asked what is the most important thing to come out of the session this year, Beard said improving mental health funding, Rios said taking care of the oil and gas industry, and Dyk said allowing corporate farming.