Capitol Insight: 4/11/15

We are fast closing in on the final weeks of the 2015 session.


Posted on 4/11/15

By Chuck Damschen, House District 10

At this writing we have started scheduling conference committees. These are committees that are comprised of Representatives and Senators that work out agreements on bills that are amended after they leave their house of origin and that house disapproves of amendments made in the second house.

We have had some controversial bills since crossover but most of the real tough ones will be appropriations bills that will likely be heard last. We had around 50 bills in Human Services since crossover and less than 20 in Energy and Natural Resources. So we have had a full slate of hearings followed by discussion in committees to make recommendations to the full assembly on each bill.

One bill that you have likely heard about is SB 2279, the so-called anti-discrimination bill. This bill was heard in the Human Services Committee where we had five or six hours of testimony on the bill. Even after all this testimony, our committee was not in full agreement and gave the bill an 11 to 2 “do not pass” recommendation. Proponents on the House floor spoke for an hour and a half but shared no new information. If this bill had passed it would have taken inalienable rights from many to give special rights to a few. I don’t believe one of the people that voted against the bill thinks it is right to discriminate against LGBTQ people or anyone else. I believe the lifestyle is wrong but I do not believe that gives me the right to mistreat anyone.

One serious issue with this bill is that there is no scientific definition of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”. Nor has science identified a gene or DNA that causes homosexuality. It certainly would put uncertainty in our courts to try to prove or disprove violations of such a law when physical evidence is disallowed and replaced by a state of mind. It would be almost impossible to administer justice under such circumstances.

I believe our US and ND Constitutions offer protections to all citizens and I see no exceptions listed. However, I do not believe those protections should be used as an excuse to allow men in women’s restrooms or vice-versa.

There were proposed amendments to remove the language that would have allowed that but vocal proponents of the bill wanted all or nothing so the amendments were not adopted. Our Constitutional protections should never be used to force an individual to endorse a practice that he or she feels is unacceptable or harmful or in direct conflict with that person’s personal convictions.

Incidentally, I can confirm that many of the LGBTQ community that are demanding “tolerance” for their lifestyle have little tolerance, love or understanding for anyone they think disagrees with them. I have received a number of contacts indicating that. However, I appreciate the many notes of thanks for my vote against the bill. I stand by my vote in spite of the “armchair philosophers” that critique votes on legislation but base their opinion on little more than biased media reports that confuse and/or distort the facts.