The trespassing bill, Senate Bill 2315, was heard Feb. 1 in the Brynhild Haugland room. The room was packed to capacity with folks from all across the state, and the hearing went on for well over five hours. There was about 50/50 as far as support and oppose.
Most of us are receiving many passionate emails on both sides of the issue. There is lots of work going on within these groups, the Agriculture Committee and the sponsor of the legislation. This bill is just like one I sponsored last session that fell short on the Senate floor.
This bill would be like what most other states have, where all private land would be considered posted and hunters would require permission to enter. Sounds like common sense, but currently in North Dakota, unless land is legally posted, hunters have a legal right to enter and hunt.
There will be committee work and several proposed amendments, so this legislation will not come out of committee this week.
One idea that I also offered two years ago was to create an online app for landowners to designate their land as posted or open for hunting. This app would also provide sportsmen and women quick access to what is posted and what land is not, and make available property owner contact information if they want. I have been asked to continue work on this idea and that work has begun. This was considered a compromise to provide less frustration to landowners and better access for hunters.
This law would also sever the difference between criminal trespass and hunter trespass and would consider all land posted for criminal trespass. This is what created so much trouble in prosecuting trespassers during the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. If this bill would pass, criminal trespass would be easy to define, would not have the requirement of land being correctly posted with signs, and would make prosecution much easier. I see a lot of benefits in this legislation.
By the time you read this, we will be on day 25 of this session. All bills need to be complete before day 32 to get them completed by crossover, which is Feb. 22. Most committees are ahead of that schedule.