Politics & Government

'SIRN' project a go

Jun 6, 2017

It’s called the “Statewide Interoperable Radio Network” project – or “SIRN” (siren) for short.

And thanks to the actions of the 2017 Legislature, providing a funding mechanism, the project will soon get off the ground.

It’s a project that would allow various public safety agencies to talk to each other – a shortcoming pointed out nationally after 9/11, when first responders were unable to communicate.

Self insurance study revived, modified

Jun 1, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A Legislative interim committee will study whether the state should continue with the current health insurance plan for state employees, or go with a self-funded plan.

Prairie Public file

Gov. Doug Burgum (R) will be asked to chair a special Tribal-State relations interim committee.

That committee will be especially looking at taxation issues between the state and the Tribal governments. That panel will be made up of the House and Senate leadership, representatives of the two Taxation committees, the Tax Commissioner, the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) made the motion in the Legislative Management Committee to ask the Governor to chair it.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Republican leaders in the North Dakota Legislature are awaiting an Attorney General’s opinion on some of Governor Burgum’s line item vetoes.

House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) asked for the opinion after Burgum vetoed items dealing with Legislative interim studies and some other items. Carlson told the Legislative Management Committee they're looking for answers.

Capitol security measures to become permanent

May 30, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Temporary security measures installed at the state Capitol for the 2017 Legislative session are becoming permanent.

Public access to the state Capitol was limited to the south and east entrances, and metal detectors were installed.

Those measures are being made permanent – and going forward, the only public access to the building will be the south entrance.

"It's much easier for security to screen through one central area than it is to monitor several different locations at one time," said Highway Patrol Lt. Michael Roark.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

In 2015, the state of North Dakota bought the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Washburn from the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.

Now, the Foundation is giving the state Parks and Recreation Department $700,000 to support ongoing maintenance at the Center.

"At a time when we've worked to take $1.7 billion out of a $6 billion budget, any time a private foundation shows up and says, 'We'd like to bring a check with us,' we're very happy to have them," said Gov. Doug Burgum at a check presenting ceremony at the Capitol.

'Emergency Services Week' spotlights volunteers

May 24, 2017
ND Health Department

This is “Emergency Services Week” in North Dakota.

It’s set aside to recognize the more than 5000 personnel that serve the state’s EMS system. A vast majority of those people are volunteers.

"We probably are at least in the neighborhood of 80 percent volunteer services in North Dakota, versus 20 percent who we would consider to be full time," said Tom Nehring,the director of the state Health Department’s Division of Emergency Medical Services.

President Trump's proposed budget calls for Congress to enact legislation that changes eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

And that worries representatives of the Great Plains Food Bank.

Changes include:

...limiting the number of adults without dependents who get benefits…
...lowering the minimum benefit level, which is currently 16 dollars per month...
... and capping eligible household members to six.

ND University System

The state Board of Higher Education is tightening up its policy on the relationships between a college or university and its foundation – or other non-profit affiliate.

The new rules say the campus president must be an ex-officio non-voting member of the organization’s board.

This comes about because of litigation surrounding the activity center at Dickinson State University. The DSU Foundation financed the center – but it dissolved in 2015, and five banks have sued, looking for repayment of loans.

Bismarck mayor will not face a recall election

May 19, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

There will not be a mayoral recall election in Bismarck.

A group opposing Mayor Mike Seminary circulated petitions for a recall. The group needed 1898 valid signatures to recall the mayor. 2405 signatures were collected. But Bismarck city manager Keith Hunke said because of discrepancies, the state's Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called in to take a look.

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