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Bismarck-Mandan area lawmakers say the enhanced security enacted during this week’s organizational session was something considered for years and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests were likely the catalyst to put it in place.

There is a new security scenario at the North Dakota Capitol building: Some entrances were locked to the public Monday through Wednesday and metal detectors had been placed at the open entrances.

“Some of the things we’re doing this go-around are things we should’ve done a long time ago. The open access and the open doors are going to change,” Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, said.

Rep. Bob Martinson, R-Bismarck, agreed.

“I’m a little surprised we didn’t … really do anything after 9/11,” Martinson said.

The revolving doors on the Capitol steps on the south side were closed, and the drive under the steps to the south doors where people could be dropped off in the past also has been closed.

Sen. Diane Larson, R-Bismarck, pointed to years of airport security increases before and after 9/11. She said the concept of the need for such security or that people would use airplanes for terrorism never crossed people’s minds years and decades ago.

“We’re getting to times where things change,” Larson said.

The ongoing protests in southern Morton County over the multistate pipeline project have led to hundreds of arrests since August and millions in law enforcement costs. Several protests in Bismarck and Mandan and gatherings near the Capitol occurred prior to the security enhancements, which are discussed prior to each session.

Local lawmakers chairing committees

Bismarck-Mandan area lawmakers will be guiding a strong share of policy in the upcoming session, with five representatives chairing committees in the House and four members of the Senate chairing on their side of the aisle.

Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, will chair House Appropriations for the fourth straight session. Rep. Gary Kreidt, R-New Salem, will be chairing the Human Resources Division of appropriations for the first time.

The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee will have a familiar head: Porter of Mandan. He’s held the gavel since 2011. In 2009, he also was chair when it was called the Natural Resources Committee.

House Industry, Business and Labor Committee will be led by Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck. He’s chaired it every session since 2003.

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Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck, will take charge of the House Political Subdivisions Committee for a second time.

In the Senate, Mandan Republican Dwight Cook will chair Finance and Taxation for a fifth straight session.

Sen. Donald Schaible, R-Mott, will chair the Senate Education Committee after chairing Energy and Natural Resources in 2015.

Taking the helm of Senate Energy and Natural Resources will be Beulah Republican Jessica Unruh.

Sen. Nicole Poolman, R-Bismarck, will chair the Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Full committee listings for lawmakers can be found at www.legis.nd.gov.

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(Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.)

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