Politics & Government

Heitkamp holds Bismarck rally for pension protection

Nov 22, 2017
Sen. Heitkamp's office

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) held a "pension rally" at the North Dakota Teamsters' Union headquarters in Bismarck Tuesday (11-21).

Heitkamp said she’s helped to write a bill that would protect retirees -- mainly UPS drivers, other truckers and grocery workers -- who depend on the Central States Pension Fund for their pensions.

The fund became insolvent, and the federal government had to take it over.  Pensioners may face benefit cuts. The federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation will also become insolvent, if the Central States Fund and other pension plans fail.

A new survey of North Dakota schools shows schools place a high importance on the “regional educational associations,” or REAs.

The study was done by the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders. Council executive director Aimee Copas presented the results to the Legislature's  interim Education Policy Committee.  Copas said the survey showed schools believe the REAs are a critical component for the state’s educational system.

Three ND colleges asking for fundraising campaigns

Nov 15, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Three North Dakota colleges want to start fundraising campaigns.

And they will be asking the state Board of Higher Education for permission.

Bismarck State College wants permission to raise $10 million for its expansion and relocation of its Health Science programs. BSC currently leases space in a converted warehouse building in downtown Bismarck, owned by the city of Bismarck. BSC vice-president Dave Clark told the Board's Budget and Finance Committee the college has a lease with the city through the summer of 2020.

DHS

The director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services said the Center for Medicare and Medicaid has issued a new rule which could affect mental health treatment in North Dakota.

Chris Jones said it concerns "IMDs" -- Institute for Mental Disease.  Jones said under current rules, Medicaid would only reimburse institutions that are considered psychiatric hospitals withy 16 beds or less.

North Dakotans still playing the lottery

Nov 13, 2017

North Dakotans are still playing the Lottery.

"Right now, this fiscal year, we're actually up about 16 percent compared to the same time frame last year," said state Lottery Director Ryan Koppy. The figures are since July First, the beginning of FY 2018.

"Last fiscal year (FY2017) was our third highest sales total in the state lottery's history," Koppy said. "So right now, we're off to a very good start in this fiscal year."

Dept of Human Services

The director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services  wants to take North Dakota to the next step – in its efforts to deal with the “Olmstead” decision.

That decision said states should strive to make sure people who are disabled are able to live in the least restrictive environment possible.

"If you compare North Dakota to other states, North Dakota is going a very good job overall," said Human Services director Chris Jones.

Jones sais he now wants to broaden the conversation.

Burgum to chair higher-ed governance task force

Nov 8, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum is creating a Higher Education Governance Task Force.

Burgum said the task force will be looking at the ways the University System is managed – and see if there are changes that need to be made to bring the system – as he put it – into the 21st century.

Burgum said the current Board of Higher Education dates back to the 1930s.

"We've had a similar model in place for 80 years," Burgum told a Capitol news conference. "Now might be a good time for us to take a look to see if that model could be updated."

The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee says Marsy’s Law – the initiated law that’s now a part of the state Constitution – is raising a lot of questions.

The measure – passed by North Dakota voters last November -- put a specific list of crime victims’ rights in the state Constitution.

Recently, a police officer who was involved in an altercation and shooting at a Bismarck motel tried to invoke Marsy's Law to keep his identity secret. But his name appeared on court documents.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department has submitted proposed rules for the Medical Marijuana Program to the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee.

But the availability of medical marijuana is still months away.

The interim director for the Health Department’s Division of Medical Marijuana – Jason Wahl – said the rules basically deal with the “compassion centers” – which will manufacture the medical marijuana – and the dispensaries, where people can come to purchase the product.

Office of Management and Budget

The state of North Dakota will continue to use Moody’s Analytics as its revenue forecasting consultant.

It’s a two year contract, with an option to extend.

The state’s Office of Management and Budget issued a “request for proposals” for a revenue forecasting firm.

"In the end, it was only Moody's that submitted a proposal," said State OMB director Pam Sharp. "We thought we were going to get another one, but on the very last day, they contacted us and told us they chose not to submit a proposal."

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