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Angel Young, left, Sheridan Seaboy-McNeil, center, Carol Jean Larsen and Scott Modland, back, stand in front of the William L. Guy Federal Building in Bismarck during a rally of about 20 people Wednesday, Dec. 19, to urge Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., to help pass Savanna's Act before the end of the congressional term. 

Legislation named in honor of a North Dakota woman that aims to gather data on missing and murdered Native American women is expected to be reintroduced next year.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she plans to introduce Savanna’s Act, legislation that the Senate approved unanimously but was stalled in the House in the final days of the session.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., was named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was abducted and killed last year in Fargo.

“I’ve committed to Sen. Heitkamp that this priority that she has helped to advance, I am going to encourage every step of the way aggressively and early,” Murkowski said in an audio clip that was provided Wednesday by her office.

Murkowski, who frequently collaborated with Heitkamp, said she’s looking for partners to support Savanna’s Act, including talking to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington.

“We’re going to be working it. We’re going to be working it early, and we’re going to make the difference,” Murkowski said.

The goals of Savanna’s Act include improving data on tribal victims, improving tribal access to crime information databases and creating locally developed guidelines for responding to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans.

Heitkamp publicly criticized Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., for “blocking” Savanna’s Act from getting a vote. Goodlatte’s office did not respond to requests to interview the congressman.

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Heitkamp said in a statement that it's "disappointing" that Goodlatte blocked Savanna's Act from passing, but "fortunate" that he won't be around in 2019.

"I know Sen. Murkowski and many others in the new Congress will continue to carry on this important mantle and I’ll continue to be a vocal advocate," Heitkamp said.

Supporters of Savanna’s Act held rallies last week outside of Rep. Kevin Cramer’s North Dakota offices, urging him to work with his colleagues to pass the legislation.

Cramer noted in a response on Facebook that the Senate had more than a year to approve Savanna’s Act and the House received it on Dec. 10.

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(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or Amy.Dalrymple@bismarcktribune.com)

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