Oban Joins Five Republicans in Proposing Stricter Seat Belt Law

State Senator Erin Oban (D - District 35) speaks to a 2016 leadership class. (Photo via screenshot on YouTube.)

Nearly two years ago we published an article titled, “You Might NOT be a Republican if…“. In it I explained my view that the North Dakota Republican party’s greatest threat isn’t Democrats… it comes from within the party. We call them “RINO’s” (Republicans in Name Only). At the time, I listed 20 examples of things RINO’s have been known for in our state. And I said that the list could be longer. A bill set to be heard in the 2019 Legislative Session is yet one more example this.

It’s well-known that in North Dakota all individuals 0 to 17 years old must be buckled up, and the manner in which they are is determined by age group and/or height. The law in relation to those under the age of 18 can be found here. But District 35’s lone Democratic Senator, Erin Oban, has joined five Republicans in proposing a bill that would make North Dakota’s seat belt laws for adults even more stringent.

The five Republicans who signed onto the legislation are:

  1. Senators: Curt Kreun (District 42) and Scott Meyer (District 18)
  2. Representatives: Emily O’Brien (District 42), Mark Owens (District 17), and Patrick Hatlestad (District 1)

Senate Bill 2060 proposes changing the state’s current law — which applies to “a motor vehicle designed for carrying fewer than eleven passengers” — from mandating that “front seat” occupants wear their seat belts to “every occupant”. And in addition to this, it would change the law from secondary enforcement to primary enforcement.

In a nutshell, this means that ALL occupants — regardless of age — would be required to have their seat belts on. And if a law enforcement officer sees you without one on, they could pull you over for that reason alone and fine you.

The fact that this bill even exists is just another example of why some say, “Who needs Democrats when we have Republicans like these?” Honestly though, it doesn’t come as a surprise. None of the five Republicans scored higher than a 52% in the American Conservative Union’s 2017 Rankings for North Dakota. In other words, they’re not really limited government Republicans.

Back in August, I expressed the view that the North Dakota Legislature should eliminate seat belt laws. Unfortunately, SB 2060 would take us in the opposite direction. I pointed out in August that only one of the fifty states has no seat belt law for those 18 and older. That distinction goes to New Hampshire.

According to some of the arguments espoused as reasons for allowing government to mandate whether we buckle up or not, one would be led to believe that New Hampshire is among the worst in the nation in motor vehicle death rates. Especially when we consider they’re ranked last for seat-belt usage (70.2%). Only it’s not true. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, the Live Free or Die state is 42nd in “Deaths Due to Motor Vehicle Accidents per 100,000 Population”. Which, by the way, is right between Hawaii and Washington, who have the highest rates of seat-belt usage in the country. North Dakota comes in at 13th for Deaths Due to Motor Vehicle Accidents.

Unfortunately, this legislation is just one more example of Nanny-state Republicans joining forces with Democrats. And it’s awful.

Do we really need the Almighty State to protect us from ourselves? I don’t believe so.

Do I wear my seat belt? Yes.

Do I think you should wear yours? Sure.

Yet, I don’t feel that I have the right to mandate that you do. Therefore, the government shouldn’t either.

What we need is to once again embrace the ideas of individual Liberty and personal responsibility. My hope is that you will contact your legislators and ask them to oppose this bill when it hits the floor for a vote. We need to reduce the power of the Nanny-state, not expand it.



  1. https://theminutemanblog.com/2017/02/14/157/
  2. https://www.nd.gov/ndhp/node/121
  3. https://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/66-2019/documents/19-0515-01000.pdf
  4. http://acuratings.conservative.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/07/NorthDakota_2017_web-1.pdf
  5. https://theminutemanblog.com/2018/08/21/the-north-dakota-legislature-should-eliminate-seat-belt-laws/
  6. https://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa/new-hampshire-motor-vehicle-death-rate
  7. https://www.boston.com/cars/car-news/2017/05/26/three-new-england-states-rank-among-the-lowest-for-seatbelt-usage
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About T. Arthur Mason 883 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.