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Published June 19, 2013, 08:49 AM

Equal parenting petitions approved for circulation in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger has approved petitions for a proposed statewide ballot measure on parental rights that could go before voters next year.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger has approved petitions for a proposed statewide ballot measure on parental rights that could go before voters next year.

Advocates of the proposed law giving both parents equal rights and decision-making responsibilities in child custody cases can now begin collecting signatures.

Proponents must collect 13,452 signatures by March 12, 2014, to get the measure on the June 2014 primary election ballot. If they fail to meet that deadline, they have until June 18, 2014, to get the necessary signatures to place the measure on the November 2014 general election ballot.

Many supporters of the initiated measure are from Walsh County. Voters there passed a similar law last November but state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has challenged the local initiative, saying it usurps state authority.

A similar statewide measure failed in 2006. Mitch Sanderson, one of the people behind the effort seven years ago, is the boyfriend of Jill Bjerke of Park River, the chairwoman of the group spearheading the current effort.

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