Local Stories

Bismarck middle school wins DPI Innovation Award

Apr 12, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A science class at Simle Middle School in Bismarck is the first winner of the Department of Public Instruction’s Innovation Award.

The eighth grade class is taught by Ryan Townsend. The class has been working on creating a solar-powered mobile phone charging station. It would be specifically designed for homeless people, and would be placed in a city park.

DOT could be asked to study its fee structure

Apr 12, 2017
ND Legislature

A conference committee has begun looking at the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s budget.

In the House version of the bill is a requirement that the DOT report to the Legislature's Budget Section on the fees it charges in comparison to the actual costs of those services.

"We're basically subsidizing the cost of license plates and driver's licenses, at a tune of $4.5 million," Re. Keith Kempenich told the conference committee.

ND Legislature

An agreement is near on a bill to have the state pick up the cost of county social services.

The House Finance and Taxation Committee has aspproved amendments to the bill introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo. The amendments call for a two year pilot project, involving having the state take over all North Dakota counties’ costs for providing social service programs. Then, after two years,

"We're going to ask the Department of Human Services to put in their budget a plan for the future," Carlson told Capitol reporters.

Chuck Lura on Crows and "The Birds"

Apr 10, 2017

Lawsuit over behavioral health?

Apr 10, 2017
ND Legislature

A Fargo legislator believes the state is going backwards in behavioral health -- and that may lead to a lawsuit.

Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) said House Bill 1040, which came out of interim studies on the issue, originally had $28 million in it. But that’s now down to $400,000. And he said that has essentially destroyed new initiatives.

Mathern said in the state department of Human Services, over 100 positions have been cut, many dealing with behavioral health.

ND Legislature

A bill supporters call true property tax relief – and reform – is a source of disagreement between the House and the Senate as the 2017 Legislative session heads toward adjournment.

That bill would have the state take over full funding of social service programs now funded by county property taxpayers.

"That really is an important bill as far as getting everything to fall in line," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson).

Wardner said he believes it is sustainable property tax relief.

Change in Legislative schedule this week

Apr 10, 2017
Dave Thompson / ND Legislature

As the 2017 legislature approaches the end, there will be some changes in the schedules.

For example, there will be no House or senate floor sessions tiomorrow (Tuesday).

"We're not going to gavel in," said House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo). "It gives us a 10-hour block of time where we can meet again and again on conference committees, and get a lot of them resolved."

That will not count as a legislative day.

As for Good Friday?

Filling In The Natural Gas Gaps

Apr 7, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

With the fracking boom ushering in cheap natural gas prices nationwide, nearly 40 states have adopted or are considering new legislation to expand gas service.

Big gaps exist in rural America where natural gas does not reach. These areas rely heavily on propane, with 12 million homes that use it for heating.

One North Dakota town is looking to make the switch, pushing the Legislature for flexibility to craft its own plan to bring in natural gas service.

Wardner: Medical marijuana bill a 'done deal'

Apr 7, 2017
ND Legislature

It appears the medical marijuana issue won’t be going to a House-Senate conference committee after all.

"We're concurring (with the House amendments)," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner. "It's a done deal."

Wardner is the main sponsor of the bill to rewrite the medical marijuana initiated measure passed by voters last November. Wardner and the other House and Senate floor leaders wanted to make sure the measure met North Dakota standards – and would prevent it from becoming recreational marijuana.

Senate votes for a 'contingency' medicaid fraud unit

Apr 7, 2017
ND Legislature

The Senate has agreed to establish a “Medicaid fraud” unit in the Attorney Generals’ office – on a contingency basis.

North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t have such a unit. The state has had a waiver – but the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid has told the state that waiver likely end soon. However, CMS hasn’t given a definite date when the waiver would disappear.

The amendment would establish the fraud unit if and when CMS gives the state a deadline—sometime before the next Legislative session.


News from NPR

For only the third time ever, the government released today a national report card examining the knowledge, understanding and abilities of U.S. eighth-graders in visual arts and music.

And in many ways, the numbers aren't great, with little progress shown in most categories since the last time the assessment was given in 2008. One bright spot: The achievement gap between Hispanic students and their white peers has narrowed. But Hispanics and African-Americans still lag far behind white and Asian eighth-graders.

As a hurry-up execution schedule plays out in Arkansas this week, the U.S. Supreme Court and Arkansas Supreme Court have stepped in to block two of the eight executions initially scheduled for an 11-day period.

In the 1950s, television producer Albert Freedman captivated audiences with his carefully crafted game show Twenty-One, which had been foundering before he helped turn it into the most popular program in the country.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

An article on a State Department website about President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort has been removed after criticism that it was an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds.

Critics complained that resources were being used to tout the for-profit club, which Trump refers to as the Winter White House. The club, in Palm Beach, Fla., is held in Trump's trust, of which he is the sole beneficiary.

Robert M. Pirsig, who inspired generations to road trip across America with his "novelistic autobigraphy," Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died Monday at the age of 88.

His publisher William Morrow & Company said in a statement that Pirsig died at his home in South Berwick, Maine, "after a period of failing health."

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