This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
It took two tries, but the North Dakota Senate approved a bill tightening the state’s seat belt law. After the bill failed on a tie vote last Monday, it passed Tuesday after Sen. Scott Meyer, R-Grand Forks, asked for reconsideration. He had missed the Monday vote and his vote changed the outcome. Senate Bill 2060 makes the seat belt law a primary one, giving law enforcement the ability to stop and cite motorists not using a belt. The bill now goes to the House and the Tribune favors passage of SB2060. It’s another step to make our roads safer.
Electronic cigarette use among youth continues to rise in North Dakota and Minnesota. "This is an epidemic now and I expect the numbers to skyrocket," said Neil Charvat, director of the North Dakota Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. The most recent data from 2017 show that rate of use among North Dakota high school students has jumped to more than 20 percent. That’s a disturbing trend and indicates a lot of work needs to be done to curb use.
Jenna Clawson Huibregtse has been working in a fairly new position as the cultural liaison officer for the Highway Patrol. The goal of the job is to help the patrol improve relationships with all cultural groups within the state.The position involves leading cultural awareness training for the law enforcement academy, developing collaborative agreements with tribal law enforcement agencies and working on recruitment. Huibregtse is a good fit for the job because of her background in cultural anthropology and law enforcement. The patrol should be commended for creating the job.
Personal freedom should be a priority, but so should the health of children. House Bill 1274 would have banned smoking in a vehicle with a child younger than 9. The House rejected the bill last week, 31-57. Young children likely don’t realize the health risk of secondhand smoking and don’t object when smoking occurs in a confined vehicle. It’s unfortunate that a law might be needed to stop the practice, but that’s the case. Apparently we need to do a better job of educating the public on the dangers of smoking and how to avoid harming those who don’t smoke.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation is taking another step to make the state’s highways safer. This summer the DOT will begin installing high-tension cable median barriers along parts of Interstate 94 around Fargo and Bismarck, and Interstate 29 in the Grand Forks area. The barriers keep vehicles traveling at highway speeds from going across the median and into oncoming traffic. They have been proven to have limited accidents and saved lives. The federal government is paying 90 percent of the costs. More barriers will be installed in 2020 and 2021. It’s another smart move by DOT.