HB 1386 provides basic protections for LGBT North Dakotans

Rep Boschee: “Since Day One, we’ve been ready and willing to work in a bipartisan fashion to pass this bill”
 

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – On the House floor today, State Rep. Josh Boschee (D-44), the primary sponsor of HB 1386, requested his bill be returned to committee to provide additional opportunities to work with Republican lawmakers on amendments that would strengthen bipartisan support for the bill and, ultimately, allow it to pass the House.      Boschee

HB 1386 would provide basic anti-discrimination protections for LGBT North Dakotans in the areas of housing, employment and public services.

Boschee’s request to return the bill to committee was voted down 32-59. Twenty Republicans joined Democratic-NPL lawmakers voting in favor.

Representative Boschee then attempted to amend HB 1386 on the House floor to limit the scope of the bill’s provisions to apply only to government employment and government-provided services – not services provided by the private sector – in another attempt to address concerns raised by Republicans. The amendment, which required unanimous consent to be considered under House rule 333, was also rejected by a voice vote.

“Since Day One, we’ve been ready and willing to work in a bipartisan fashion to pass this bill,” said Boschee. “We cannot let perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to providing basic protections that are so important to so many of our citizens. Passing a bill that provides these protections – even if it doesn’t include every single provision we want – is better than not passing any bill at all.”

“We remain committed to working with our colleagues across the aisle to build enough support to finally pass this commonsense, and vitally important, legislation,” added Boschee.

This is the fourth time anti-discrimination legislation has been introduced to the North Dakota Legislature. Nearly identical bills were introduced, and voted down, during the 2009, 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions. Throughout the committee hearing for HB 1386, Rep. Boschee worked with Republicans to offer amendments that addressed their concerns in order to strengthen bipartisan support for the legislation.

The Forum editorial board, the Bismarck Tribune editorial board and Republican Governor Doug Burgum have all expressed their support for anti-discrimination legislation.  

When identical legislation was considered during the 2015 legislative session, the Forum wrote: “It’s time for North Dakota to join some 40 other states that have stopped discriminating in jobs and housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The following month, Burgum told the High Plains Reader: “Every policy the legislature is considering should be viewed through a lens of supporting workforce development in the state […] Any laws we have that discriminate against or limit the rights of any citizens based on gender orientation create a barrier for recruiting and retaining talent in our state.”

Earlier this week, the Bismarck Tribune wrote: “Businesses and civil servants shouldn’t be allowed to refuse services to people because of their race, age, gender or sexual preferences […] Passing HB1386 would be a positive step for North Dakota and the nation. It would signal the state believes everyone is equal under the law.”

“Elected leaders talk all the time about building a stronger and more vibrant economy, and investing in our communities,” said Boschee. “Yes, this bill is about providing basic protections for all North Dakotans, but it’s also about making our communities more open for investments, innovation and entrepreneurs. Simply put, making our communities more welcoming is good for business – and this should be a goal we can all get behind, regardless of party affiliation.”        

Following Rep. Boschee’s request to return his bill to committee, and his request to amend the bill on the floor, HB 1386 was voted down, 22-69, with 10 Republicans joining all Democratic-NPL lawmakers voting in favor.

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