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House defeats smoking in cars restriction

The North Dakota House has rejected a bill to make it illegal for adults to smoke in a car when children under the age of 9 are present.

The bill was sponsored by Fargo Democratic Representative Pamela Anderson. The measure would allow officers to pull over anyone seen smoking with young children in the vehicle and fine them $25.

It received a ‘do not pass’ recommendation from the House Human Services Committee.

"We don't control if they smoke in a house, and we consider a car to be a private area," said Rep. Clayton Fegley (R-Berthold), who carried the "do not pass" recommendation on the floor.

Rep. Dan Ruby (R-Minot) said the bill conflicted with property rights.

"If you're on your own property, out in the field or in your driveway, you could be given a ticket for that," Ruby said.

But Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) questioned that.

"This isn't a property right," Kasper said. "It's the right of the child to breathe clean air."

Rep. Bill Devlin (R-Fessenden) argued this is not a property rights bill, or a parents' rights bill.

"In my mind, it's a child's rights bill," Devlin argued. "A child's right to live a healthy, happy life in the state of North Dakota."

57 Representatives voted “no” – 31 voted “yes.”

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