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Published May 06, 2013, 03:38 PM

North Dakota Legislature highlights of the 2013 session

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Here's a look at some of measures passed by the Legislature this year in the just-ended session:

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Here's a look at some of measures passed by the Legislature this year in the just-ended session:

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ABORTION: Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law a bill that bans abortion as early as six weeks, or when a fetal heartbeat is detected, making North Dakota the most restrictive state in the nation in which to get the procedure. Dalrymple also signed into law other measures that make the state the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome and require a doctor who performs abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges. Another measure outlaws abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that at that point a fetus can feel pain. North Dakota lawmakers also moved to seek a referendum measure defining life as starting at conception, essentially banning abortion in the state. The measure is likely to come before voters in November 2014.

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OIL IMPACT: Lawmakers agreed to provide more than $1.1 billion in state aid to help western North Dakota communities deal with exploding energy development in the region.

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NATURAL GAS FLARING: Oil drillers will get tax breaks if they stop burning and wasting natural gas. The bills offer oil companies tax incentives for capturing and using the byproduct of the state's booming crude production. But critics say the measures won't completely compel drillers to stop torching and wasting the gas.

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STRIPPER WELLS: After attempts in three previous sessions, lawmakers voted to close a tax loophole used by the oil industry that the Tax Department says is costing the state $50 million each year. The measure also gives the Three Affiliated Tribes a greater share of the taxes collected from reservation oil production.

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GUNS IN CHURCH: North Dakotans with a concealed-carry permit are allowed to carry a gun in church, if officials there allow it and notify law enforcement.

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WATER AND FLOOD PROTECTION: Legislation was approved that provides $515 million for flood control and water projects across North Dakota. The biggest single expenditure in the bill is $100 million for Fargo-area flood protection projects.

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— DRUNKEN DRIVING: Dalrymple signed legislation aimed at strengthening penalties for drunken driving in North Dakota. The new law increases fines and other penalties and requires jail time or community service work for first-time DUI offenders who have a blood alcohol content of 0.16 percent. That's twice the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent.

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ANIMAL CRUELTY: Cruelty to animals is now a felony in North Dakota. In cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment, a first offense would be a misdemeanor and a third within 10 years a felony.

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MEDICAID: North Dakota's Republican-led Legislature reluctantly voted to expand Medicaid to cover more uninsured residents of the state. Several Republican lawmakers in both chambers testified that they don't like the new federal law championed by President Barack Obama but decided the state should accept it because of the potential for North Dakota residents to shoulder more costs without it.

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