Politics & Government

Good and bad in youth risk behavior report

Aug 16, 2012

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says while there is good news in the latest state youth behavior risk survey – there are some disturbing findings.

Stenehjem reviewed the findings with the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee – as part of a report on substance abuse and treatment. He told the Committee the survey showed reductions in tobacco and alcohol use among students 18 and younger.

'Synthetic' drugs a growing problem in ND

Aug 16, 2012

An epidemic.

That’s how Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem describes the growing use of synthetic drugs – such as fake marijuana and fake LSD. Stenehjem told the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee the law passed in the 2011 session has given law enforcement a tool to crack down on synthetic marijuana – and he says he’ll be asking for a similar law for the so-called “bath salts” – which people are ingesting.

Olson retiring from ND Human Services

Aug 13, 2012

Carol Olson has been the director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services since 1997.

"I'm the longest serving director of human services in the nation -- so far," said Olson.

In 1997, she was Governor Ed Schafer’s chief of staff. Olson says there were some problems in the Department, and she was asked to take over.  She says she didn’t expect to serve for 15 years. But now, after 15 years, Olson is retiring. 

Group pushes animal cruelty initiative

Aug 8, 2012

A group of animal protection advocates has turned in more than 25-thousand signatures on a petition to strengthen the state’s animal cruelty law.

The proposal would make animal cruelty a class “C” felony, which has a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a five-thousand dollar fine. Current state law makes animal cruelty a misdemeanor, with a maximum one year in prison.

Conservation amendment may be on Nov. ballot

Aug 6, 2012
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group calling itself “North Dakotansfor Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage” has filed signatures to put a Constitutional amendment on the November ballot

The measure would set aside five percent of oil tax collections into a fund for land, water and wildlife conservation in North Dakota. But as Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson reports, the measure has its detractors.

Jesse Bckers of Valley City is a member of the sponsoring committee. He works for Pheasants Forever.

Smoking ban could be headed to the Nov. ballot

Aug 2, 2012
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Supporters of a law to ban smoking in all public places in North Dakota say they have more than enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

Smoke Free ND turned in petitions with more than 21.000 signatures to the Secretary of State. The group needs just over 13,000 valid signatures to get in on the November ballot.

Chancellor's plans to expand staff meeting resistance

Jul 30, 2012

The new Chancellor of the North Dakota University System is facing some resistance to his plan to add 30 staffers to the system office.

Ham Shrirvani says many of the new staff would be compliance officers – to help make sure the campuses are following policy.

"Whatever policy we put together, it has to be monitored," Shirvani told the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee. "That's the reason we need compliance officers in the Chancellor's office. Establishing a policy is one thing -- monitoring it is something else."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The new Chancellor of the North Dakota University System says his office will be looking at the student fees at the state’s public colleges and universities – in terms of what’s charged and how the funds are used.

This comes in the wake of a performance audit report of student fees at NDSU and UND. The report says some of the money was spent of such things as first class airline tickets to India for an NDSU dean, purchase of iPads and t-shirts at UND, and to fatten up some reserve funds.

More UND Med School grads staying in ND

Jul 25, 2012

The dean of the University of North Dakota Medical School says over the past few years, more med school graduates have decided to stay and practice in North Dakota.

Doctor Joshua Wynne told the Legislature’s interim Health Services Committee – about 71 percent of the med school grads stay in-state. Wynne says that’s due, in part, to an increase in the number of residencies the Legislature approved two years ago.

The state Tax Department is trying to hire sales tax auditors in Dickinson and Minot.

But so far, the Department hasn’t had a lot of luck.

"Part of it is wages," said Tax Commissioner Cory Fong. "In some cases, we're competing with other state agencies that can offer more money.  We're also competing with the private sector."

Fong also said cost-of-living is an issue. He said housing shortages in the two cities has become a major issue."

"You almost have to look for people who already have a place to live," Fong said. "That limits your pool, you know."