House rejects seat belt, traffic fine billsThe state House has rejected increased traffic fines and stricter seat belt enforcement. The vote on seat belts, House Bill 1197, took place at 8:30 p.m. as the Legislature worked well into the evening Monday. The vote was 58-34 to defeat the bill.
By: By Janell Cole , N.D. Capitol Bureau, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — The state House has rejected increased traffic fines and stricter seat belt enforcement.
The vote on seat belts, House Bill 1197, took place at 8:30 p.m. as the Legislature worked well into the evening Monday. The vote was 58-34 to defeat the bill.
Traffic fines were in House Bill 1431, and lost on a 57-35 vote in an afternoon vote.
Rep. Ed Gruchalla, D-Fargo, sponsored both bills. He said compliance with the seat belt law would go up and lives would be saved.
HB 1197 was the latest attempt in the past several sessions to create a “primary enforcement” seat belt law, which would allow law enforcement officers to stop motorists they see not wearing their seat belts. Currently they must have a driver pulled over for another violation before they can also write a ticket for failure to buckle up.
Gruchalla said the proposed increase in traffic fines were moderate and long overdue after several decades. He said the bill was not designed to boost local political subdivisions’ revenues. This is the second session in a row in which he has sought to boost traffic fines.
Some violations that currently cost $20 would go to $30; others that are currently $50 would go to $75, or from $25 to $40, or from $100 to $200.
Rep. Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield, said there is no indication of a problem of North Dakotans ignoring traffic laws.
Rep. Rae Ann Kelsch, R-Mandan, said the bill should be defeated because it’s “an increase on your constituents” who are going to complain if it passes. She said arguments that visiting motorists who are stopped and cited “laugh” at the fines was no reason to increase them.
Cole works for Forum
Communications Co., which
owns The Jamestown Sun