Politics & Government

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

"Today is a little bit like preparing for a piano recital with only two weeks of lessons."

That’s how new Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak described her first PSC meeting. Fedorchak was appointed by Governor Dalrymple to take the place of Kevin Cramer, who was elected to Congress. Fedorchak says the PSC has a lot to do with both the energy industry and the agriculture industry.

Minot lawmaker proposes gradual oil tax reduction

Jan 17, 2013

A Minot lawmaker has introduced a bill to simplify – and potentially lower – oil taxes.

The bill – introduced by Republican Representative Roscoe Streyle  – would tie the rate of the oil extraction tax to production benchmarks. The current extraction tax is 6.5 percent. Streyle’s bill would reduce that to 6 percent – if production reaches 800,000 barrels a day. It would go down to 5.5 percent at 900,000 barrels, 5 percent at 1.1 million barrels, 4.5 percent at 1,250,000 barrels, and 4 percent at 1.5 million barrels.

House member wants a later start to the school year

Jan 16, 2013

A western North Dakota lawmaker says school starts too early.

Rep. Mike Schatz (R-New England) has introduced a bill to prevent school from starting before the last Monday of August. Schatz would also prohibit sports training from starting before the third Thursday in August. He says he has always been opposed to starting school or practice in early August.

"It's too warm," said Schatz. "There's a risk of heat stroke. You're using up the best month of the year to both play sports, especially football, and start school."

Cutting gasoline taxes?

Jan 16, 2013

A state lawmaker is proposing cutting North Dakota's gasoline tax in half.

The current tax is 23 cents a gallon. Rep. Lawrence Klemin (R-Bismarck) would cut that to 11 cents.

"The idea is to get some kind of immediate tax relief back to the taxpayer, rather than having to wait until they get the tax bill on their home, or they pay their income taxes," said Klemin. “This would be effective every day. And I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of vehicles there are in North Dakota, but virtually everyone would have some benefit immediately through this bill.”

Tougher DUI laws may be on the way in ND

Jan 14, 2013

Several legislators are proposing making drunk driving laws tougher.

Rep.resentative Ed Gruchalla (D-Fargo) says his DUI bill is ready to be introduced.

Under his bill, the first offense would carry a $5000fine. Gruchalla says half of that would be refunded – if the driver puts in an ignition interlock device in the car. That device would prevent the car from starting – if the driver is drunk.

VandeWalle asks for three new judges

Jan 10, 2013

North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle is making a plea for three more district judges.

Vandewalle told the Legislature – in his State of the Judiciary Address – the northwest part of North Dakota needs two more judgeships, and Cass County would get the third.

State of State address

Jan 8, 2013

The North Dakota Senate Majority and Minority Leaders agree on the need for property tax cuts and allowing oil producing counties to keep more of the oil taxes generated by drilling and production.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) says property tax relief will be a big issue in this year’s Legislative session. Wardner says the current plan – where the state is funding 70 percent of the cost of local schools, which requires the school districts to lower their mill levies, has helped keep property taxes down.

Echoes of 1997?

Jan 4, 2013

Former North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy says he can relate to the anger and frustration felt by New York and New Jersey members of Congress – over the delay in Congressional action on Hurricane Sandy relief.

House speaker John Boehner canceled a vote on a $60-billion aid package. That vote was supposed to happen right after the “fiscal cliff” bill was passed.

Cramer: 'I welcome a discussion on guns and violence'

Dec 26, 2012

Congressman-elect Kevin Cramer (R-ND) says he hopes there will be a calm and rational discussion on ways to help prevent gun violence.

Cramer says he is a Second Amendment supporter, and he is not in favor of gun control. But he says he realizes there is a national appetite for a discussion on the issue.

"As soon as we go down that path, we are treading on issues of liberty, of security, of personal identity and privacy matters," said Cramer. "To balance those issues will be a huge challenge."