State law prevents companies and capital companies from owning or leasing farm or ranch land and from "farming or livestock farming" with a few exceptions. House bill 1388 extends requirements that shareholders or members are related to include cousins.
Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, said lawmakers should "open the law" to help support the state's agricultural sector.
"They are two words: second cousin, that is all we are voting on today," she said. "It's the same country, it's the same farm, it's the same family, it's the same goal."
The Senate passed the law in a vote of 35-11.
The North Dakota Farmers Union opposed the law. The group previously led a successful ballot box effort to overthrow a 2015 law that exempts pig and dairy farms from the farm ban.
"I believe this is an extension," said Wyndmere's Democratic Senator, Jim Dotzenrod, who was unsuccessful as agricultural commissioner last year. "If we approve this, we will set a precedent for future extensions to our family business association legislation."
Burgum signs bill to make Medicaid eligible for pregnant women
Burgum signed legislation Thursday to extend Medicaid eligibility for low-income pregnant women.
House Bill 1515 heads the state's Department of Human Services to request federal approval for expanding medical assistance coverage for pregnant women with an income less than 162 percent of the federal poverty level. In North Dakota, a maximum of 152 percent of the poverty level is currently possible.
Under the bill, an estimated 455 extra pregnant women would be eligible for coverage each year.
Senate makes impact of income tax deduction unnecessary
The Senate mitigated the fiscal blow of a proposal to create a new individual tax deduction for social security benefits.
The amended legislation is intended for low-income individuals by enabling them to reduce their taxable income in North Dakota by the amount of their social security benefits that are taxed under federal law. That is expected to cost the state $ 2.2 million in the 2019 to 211 biennial, much less than the $ 20.8 million in the original bill.
The Senate unanimously approved the bill Tuesday, but it is scheduled to be discussed in a House-Senate conference committee.
Ethics committees to meet again
After a brief interruption, the House and Senate committees charged with implementing the state's new ethical rules will meet again next week.
The ethics committee of the Senate meets on Tuesday and Thursday, while the House committee meets on Wednesday. Each panel considers legislation passed by the other chamber.
The effort was triggered by the move from Measure 1 during the 2018 elections. The state constitution now prohibits lobbyist donations to public officials, includes new language for financial transparency and creates an ethics committee that can investigate the crime.