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Senate approves conference committee version of the 'Challenge Grant' bil

The state Senate has again passed a bill that funds challenge grants for the state’s colleges and universities – despite pleas from one of the conference committee members to kill it.

Under the challenge grant program, for every $2 raised by a college foundation, the state would contribute $1, with the money going for scholarships.

SB 2020 contains language that forbids colleges from working with Planned Parenthood. NDSU has been working with the organization, by funneling federal grant money to that organization to develop sex education programs. The House added a penalty provision for colleges who may partner with the organization.

Sen. Karen Krebsbach (R-Minot), a member of the conference committee, urged the Senate to kill the bill.

"I do not want to put the presidents of our institutions, or those institutions, at risk," Krebsbach said on the Senate floor. "The way it is written, it's a little bit far-reaching."

Krebsbach said some of the presidents have said they don't know if they dare sign a contract, if it's going to be subject to this.

Edinburg Republican Senator Janne Myrdal is the author of the amendment about Planned Parenthood. She urged her colleagues to vote 'yes' on the amended bill.

"All this does is say, you should not and cannot cooperate with or work with or partner with an organization that chooses abortion over live birth -- period," Myrdal said.

The bill as amended by the conference committee passed 35 to 11. It will now be considered in the House.

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