Passage is long overdue.

A bill under consideration by the 67th North Dakota Legislative Assembly would require the establishment of penalties for committing bias crimes and guidelines for identifying them. 

HB 1443 is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of six representatives and three senators. They are: 

  • Rep. Ruth Buffalo, D-27
  • Rep. Joshua Boschee, D-44
  • Rep. Clayton Fegley, R-4
  • Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-44
  • Rep. Mary Johnson, R-45
  • Rep. Mary Schneider, D-21
  • Sen. Kathy Hogan, D-21
  • Sen. Oley Larson, R-3
  • Sen. Richard Marcellais, D-9

Human rights advocates and organizers say a bias bill is long overdue in the state. 

“North Dakota is a state that does not have any bias laws, or anything that really holds people driven by bias accountable when they commit crimes,” said Wess Philome of OneFargo.

“This legislation is extremely important because it doesn’t just protect certain groups of people,” said Maura Ferguson, fair housing advocate at High Plains Fair Housing Center. “It protects everyone because every person exists at an intersection of identities that are all covered by these protected classes in some shape or form. We really want to make it very clear that this is inclusive legislation that we hope will protect North Dakotans broadly, as well.”

HB 1443 requires:

  • Establishment of guidelines to help law enforcement personnel identify bias crimes and respond to them appropriately.
  • Bias training for law enforcement personnel.
  • Establishment of requirements for data collection and reporting of bias-related crimes.
  • An additional charge if an underlying crime is committed because of “actual or perceived race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or ancestry,” or because of an affiliation with or representation of the same.

Ferguson said a crime would only be considered a bias crime if the perpetrator committed it because of one of those actual or perceived protected classes. 

The bill, which you can read here, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. At this time it’s not clear when the committee might take it up.

Our Opinion

No one should be targeted for a crime because of their ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation. Please contact members of the N.D. House Judiciary Committee, as well as your own representatives and senator, and urge them to support this much-needed anti-bias legislation.

As we often say here at IV Words, people are people. Let’s take this first step toward making sure we’re all treated fairly together.

You Can Do More, Too

If you have a compelling story to share about bias in North Dakota, or if you’d like to get more involved, please contact N.D. Human Rights Coalition Community Organizer Barry Nelson at bnelson371@cableone.net or 701-388-6156.

In the meantime, please take these actions:

  • If you don’t already know – and it’s OK if you don’t – find out which district you live in and who your senator and representatives are.
  • Click on each one’s name to get their email address and telephone number. Contact them to let them know you want them to support passage of HB 1443.
  • Talk to your friends, family and neighbors. Tell them there is a very important bill that is going to be coming before the state legislature. Tell them how important it is to you. Ask them to learn about the bias crime bill and when asked, support it.
  • When it is going before a specific committee (like Judiciary), write, email or call every committee member with a simple message as to why you believe they should support this bill. If one of those committee members also happens to be one of your representatives, make sure you tell them you are one of their constituents and that you vote.
  • When HB 1443 ultimately goes before the floor of the House, call or email your representatives, even if you’ve done so already. Again, ask them to support the bill and tell them you vote.
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