North Dakota Legislature: What to watch this week

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 10, 2013 at 11:19 am •  Published: February 10, 2013
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Legislature will take a closer look at itself this week with a package of measures aimed at creating an ethics commission and retooling campaign finance tools.

Also on lawmakers' agenda this eclectic week? Divorces, historic horses, treasury workload and support for Israel.

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ETHICS COMMISSION

North Dakota lawmakers will again decide if they want closer oversight of themselves.

House assistant Democratic leader Corey Mock of Grand Forks is pushing a measure that would create a nine-member commission to investigate alleged acts of wrongdoing by politicians.

The bill is part of the so-called Sunshine Act that also includes a measure aimed at tightening campaign finance rules.

Mock said North Dakota is one of the few states that does not have an ethics commission or committee. And he says it's needed.

North Dakota House Republican majority leader Al Carlson of Fargo has said he believes an ethics commission isn't required.because the Legislature already follows high standards of conduct.

The Legislature defeated an attempt to create an ethics commission in 2011.

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DELAYED DIVORCES

Quickie divorces would be impossible to get in North Dakota under a bill to be considered by the House this week.

North Dakota couples seeking divorce would have to wait at least six months and undergo mandatory counseling. Domestic abuse cases are exempt from the waiting period.

Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, is one of the sponsors of the bipartisan legislation. Larsen unsuccessfully pushed a similar bill two years ago that would have required yearlong wait and 10 hour-long counseling sessions before the split was final.

Critics argue that mandatory counseling does little for couples who are dead set on separating.

Attorney groups also argue that a mandatory waiting period provides more time for violence and financial mischief, while leaving children in limbo.

Don't forget lawyers may lose business, too.

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NOKOTA PONIES

Some believe the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota are descendants of the ponies owned by the Plains Indians. They call the breed Nokota and are dedicated to its preservation.