Local Stories

House passes 'shared parenting' bill

Feb 22, 2017
Courtesy ND Legislature

The House has passed a “shared parenting” bill that supporters say is much better than the initiated measures voters rejected.

The bill says there is a “rebuttable presumption” that divorced parents should equally share custody of their children. The bill says it could be 50-50, but could be as low a percentage as 65-35. But Rep. Shannon RoersJones (R-Fargo) said the judge will still have the final say concerning custody.

Higher Ed budget bill passes Senate

Feb 22, 2017
Courtesy ND Legislature

The state Senate has approved the University System’s budget.

It’s a $65 million reduction in general fund spending from the 2015-2017 biennium.

"It's a large decrease," said Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "But I think with good leadership at the campus level, and at the board level, they can continue to grow."

House rejects further limits on weaponizing drones

Feb 22, 2017
Courtesy ND Legislature

The House has rejected a bill to prohibit law enforcement from using less lethal and non-lethal weapons on drones.

Two years ago, the Legislature prohibited the use of lethal weapons on drones.

The bill’s sponsor – Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) – said North Dakota was the first state in the country to allow any kind of weapons on those unmanned aerial vehicles. He told the House allowing weapons removes what he calls the “humanity” of law enforcement officers.

Courtesy Lynn Helms

North Dakota Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms believes the state needs to rethink how it handles sales taxes in revenue forecasting.

Helms said during the oil boom, sales tax rose rapidly – and as things slowed in the oil patch, sales tax collections dropped.

"Of course, there was the materials that go into wells when they're drilled, and the materials that go into hydraulic fracturing," Helms said in an interview. "Those two things will come back when drilling activity increases."

Journeys Through Justice: Addiction, Treatment and Prisons

Feb 21, 2017

Leann Bertsch has been North Dakota’s director of Corrections since 2005. In this Journeys Through Justice report, she talks about the changes she feels are needed in the state’s criminal justice system.

We are the third fastest growing state in terms of incarceration, which is not a good statistic to have.

This growth is driven largely by people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. 

Journeys Through Justice: Lessons from Norway

Feb 21, 2017
Ganger Rolf / By GangerRolf (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

Leann Bertsch has a job that most people would not envy. As the state’s director of corrections and rehabilitation, she oversees the state’s prisons. And since taking the job in 2005 she’s had to oversee a rapid rise in the state’s prison population.

We are the third fastest growing state in terms of incarceration, which is not a good statistic to have.

House passes refugee study

Feb 21, 2017

The House has approved a study of refugee resettlement in North Dakota.

As originally proposed, the measure would have determined a community’s capacity to absorb refugees, and would have allowed a community to put a moratorium on accepting refugees. In North Dakota, three cities – Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks – have refugee resettlement programs. The bill was amended to call for a study of the effects refugees have on the state of North Dakota, and the role the state should have in the program.

Rep. Mary Schneider (D-Fargo) asked that the bill be rejected.

House passes substantial increase in littering fine

Feb 21, 2017
Courtesy ND Legislature

The House has passed a bill raising the fine for littering from $100 to $500.

Supporters say it sends a message to people to refrain from dumping garbage in highway ditches. They say the oil boom has caused an uptick in littering.

Rep. Denton Zubke (R-Watford City) said US 85 in western North Dakota was filled with all sorts of garbage. And he's hoping the bill will deter some of that.

Medical Marijuana bill clears another hurdle

Feb 21, 2017
Courtesy ND Legislature

The state Senate has approved amendments to the Medical Marijuana bill.

As originally proposed, the hill would not have allowed smoking marijuana. But the amendments spell out the idea that with a doctor’s permission, a patient can smoke from the leaves and flowers of the plant.

"Leafs and flowers? That's pot," said Sen. Oley Larson (R-Minot). "That's not medicine."

Larson had proposed allowing people to smoke “hash resin” instead.

Courtesy ND Legislature

The state Senate has voted to take the environmental functions now in the state Health Department, and put them in a new state agency – the Department of Environmental Quality.

It wouldn’t happen until January,2019 – and only if federal agencies sign off on the new department. It would affect about 170 people who now work for the division. And it would become a Cabinet agency – meaning the Governor would appoint the agency’s director.


News from NPR

By a largely party-line vote Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that repeals Obama-era hunting restrictions on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The House already voted last month to abolish those restrictions — which were instituted by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 to protect predator species from hunters — and so the bill now heads to the desk of President Trump, who is widely expected to sign it.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in an 8-0 ruling.

The decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District could have far-reaching implications for the 6.5 million students with disabilities in the United States.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET.

An attack mid-day Wednesday in the heart of London has caused at least four deaths and 20 injuries, according to police.

Police say the dead include the suspected assailant, two civilians and an armed police officer who was defending Parliament.

Authorities have declared the attack a "terrorist incident." They say they believe there was a single attacker.

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Main Street

Citizen's Police Academy in Williston ~ Bush Fellow Alice Musumba

The Williston Police Department has faced some interesting times as it has grown to meet the challenges associated with the oil boom. To help residents understand more about the work they do they’ll be holding a Citizens Police Academy next month. Here to tell us more is Lt. Detective Amy Nickoloff. ~~~ We continue our series on Women’s History Month with the story of Pocahontas. ~~~ Alice Musumba is passionate about helping immigrants thrive in Bismarck. She's a 2017 Bush Foundation Fellow...

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