Politics & Government

ND Legislature

North Dakota’s Legislative Council is still working on the parameters of a lawsuit the Legislature will likely bring against Gov. Doug Burgum for some of his line-item vetoes.

The Legislature objected to Burgum vetoing Legislative intent language without vetoing certain appropriations.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said lawyers who are members of the Legislature are also taking a look at the issues.

"This is not a witch hunt," Wardner said. "It's simply trying to make sure people understand that these are the rules when it comes to vetoes."

VCSU carbon capture project moving ahead

3 hours ago
Valley City State University

Valley City State University is making progress on a “carbon capture” project.

VCSU president Dr. Tisa Mason said the old heat plant had to be replaced, and the new heat plant is now operational. It will be ready to capture the carbon.

Mason said the university has been in discussions with partners who may buy the “activated carbon” to be captured from that heat plant. She said a “request for proposals” will soon be out, and she says she’s hoping to have some responses back in September.

The Bismarck School District has a goal of building its ending fund balance back up.

That’s a goal made a little more difficult in the present school funding environment.

While the Legislature didn’t cut state spending on K-12 education, it didn’t increase it, either. And property valuations are not expected to increase enough for the district to get a lot of extra money from property taxes.

The District right now has a $160 million budget – but a projected ending fund balance of about $6.3 million.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department says it has so far received 9 letters of intent from people interested in submitting a proposal to become a registered “compassion center” for medical marijuana.

Under state law, a compassion center is a medical marijuana grower or manufacturing facility, or a dispensary. The law says up to two manufacturers and eight dispensaries can be established.

ND University System

North Dakota colleges will be getting a little less money from Minnesota under the tuition reciprocity agreement.

The agreement allows a Minnesota student to enroll in a North Dakota college at a tuition rate of 112-percent of what an undergraduate North Dakota student pays in tuition. For graduate students, it would be 127 percent. But because there are more Minnesota students attending North Dakota colleges than vice-versa, the state of Minnesota makes a supplement payment to help pay for the educational costs for Minnesota students.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group that wants to do away with North Dakota’s Sunday closing law has taken the first step to put the issue before voters.

“ND Open on Sundays” has submitted language for an initiated measure to Secretary of State Al Jaeger to review.

Under current law, most retailers have to be closed between midnight Saturday and noon Sunday.

ND University System

North Dakota’s University System is stepping up its game when it comes to cyber-security education and research.

"When we did the workforce advisory council the Legislature had us do, we identified the vast majority of companies felt uncertain, and needing more cyber-security training on the prart of their workforce," said NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Another impact of the drought in south-central North Dakota.

The developer of a wind farm and new transmission line in Oliver County will delay replanting of trees and shrubs affected by the development. That replanting is required by the Public Service Commission.

Oliver Wind III, LLC will delay planting until next year.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the delay is a good idea.

"They were concerned there would be a low survivability of the trees and shrubs they did plant," Fedorchak said. "That's because of the lack of rain and drought conditions."

ND University System

A job change in the University System office.

Lisa Feldner has been the chief of staff to Chancellor Mark Hagerott, as well as the System’s information technology director. She will now just handle IT.

"Because of the urgent needs we have in cyber-security, and she was an architect for the North Dakota research network some years ago, as well as in high-performacnce computing, I've put her focus on those things," Hagerott said.

Hagerott said there’s a lot to do in that regard.

DHS

Some Legislators have raised questions about the Department of Human Services’ decision to end contracts with two Red River Valley organizations that provide recreational services for clients with developmental disabilities.

Red River Human Services Foundation of Fargo and Listen, Inc. from Grand Forks each had received two year contracts worth $75,000 each. But the two providers’ contracts were not renewed.

DHS director Chris Jones said in one section of the Department’s budget bill, DHS was told to find $650,000 in contract reductions.

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