BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- North Dakota's Republican-controlled Legislature says state residents can't be forced to buy health insurance -- or be fined for not having coverage.

It's a protest against federal health care legislation, and a Democratic Senate leader says it's pointless.

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The federal health care law requires people to get health coverage. The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that says the mandate doesn't apply in North Dakota.

Senate Democratic assistant minority leader Mac Schneider says federal law trumps state law for now, and the bill is a waste of time.

Crosby Sen. John Andrist says the bill provides a defense for North Dakota residents who don't want to be forced to buy health coverage.

The measure now goes to Gov. Jack Dalrymple.