House passes substantial increase in littering fine

Feb 21, 2017

Rep. Denton Zubke (R-Watford City).
Credit Courtesy ND Legislature

The House has passed a bill raising the fine for littering from $100 to $500.

Supporters say it sends a message to people to refrain from dumping garbage in highway ditches. They say the oil boom has caused an uptick in littering.

Rep. Denton Zubke (R-Watford City) said US 85 in western North Dakota was filled with all sorts of garbage. And he's hoping the bill will deter some of that.

"I think we have to accept that we cannot control people's behavior 100 percent," said Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck), an opponent of the measure. "When the oil comes back, we're going to have more littering, with or without a 500 percent increase on this fine."

Others suggested one way to solve the problem is to toughen the state’s “open container” law. But Zubke told his House colleagues the problem is not just empty beer bottles and cans.

"They are urine bombs," Zubke said. "They are soiled diapers. They are bales of twine. Everything you could possibly imagine."

Zubke also said there are things too big or too hazardous to pick up, and things too disgusting to pick up.

The measure passed 55 to 37 – and will now be considered by the Senate.