Politics & Government

V.P. Joe Biden rallies N.D. Democrats

Mar 17, 2018
T.McDonald / Prairie Public

Former U-S Vice President Joe Biden delivered the key note address to delegates and party faithful at this year’s Democrat-NPL State Convention in Grand Forks. Reporter Todd McDonald has details…

ND DEM-NPL Convention is underway

Mar 16, 2018

Candidates and delegates from North Dakota's Democratic-NPL Party are gathered at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks to set the stage for this year's elections.

Events from the opening day included...

The endorsement Jean Brandt for the six-year Public Service Commission term.

That seat is now held by Republican Randy Christmann, who is seeking re-election.

Brandt is from Kramer, North Dakota – in Bottineau County. Brandt told the convention delegates she will give more than 100 percent to the race.

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Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s Transportation Director is concerned about what he called a “funding gap” for North Dakota’s highway system.

"As we look at our data, and we look at the condition of our transportation system, and the revenue we have coming in -- in the future, there is a funding gap," said Tom Sorel. "There's a funding gap even in the system as it is today."

DOT brought together a group of Legislators, transportation companies and others to start looking at the issue.

Sorel said a number of options are now on the table.

ND Attorney General's office

A windfall – of sorts – for North Dakota.

The state is getting another $34 million from the tobacco settlement.

"A part of the terms for that settlement was that we would also diligently enforce the requirement that companies that didn't join the tobacco settlement would pay money into an escrow account," said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. "That was to level the playing field, competitively."

A Minot lawmaker wants candidates in local races to have to show party affiliations.

Right now, those party ties are not on ballots for city government, school boards or other local elected offices. Rep. Scott Louser (R-Minot) said he tried to get the proposal as an amendment to a bill in the 2017 Legislature, but it was rejected. Louser is planning to introduce it as a stand-alone bill in the 2019 Legislature.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The director of the State Health Department’s Medical Marijuana division says the plan is to have medical marijuana available in North Dakota by the end of the calendar year.

Jason Wahl told the Legislature’s Administrative Rules committee – a big hurdle was the approval of the new administrative rules governing it.

"The Department is committing to implementing this program as quickly as it can," Wahl told the Committee. "It needs to insure the program is implemented in a well-regulated manner."

Lawmakers say raising the state gas tax is unlikely

Mar 10, 2018

An interim Legislative committee will be looking at ways to raise more money for highway construction and repair.

The state has traditionally used proceeds from the gasoline tax to match federal transportation dollars. During the oil boom, lawmakers used money from oil tax revenues to supplement the state’s share.

There had been some talk of increasing the gas tax. It's currently 23 cents a gallon. But one of the members of the interim Government Finance Committee believes that may be a non-starter.

Election training includes cyber-security

Mar 9, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A federal Election Assistance Commissioner said voting systems are like most Information Technology systems – they’re subject to attack.

Matthew Masterson talked to County auditors from around North Dakota, who were in Bismarck for election training.

"Election officials already know what to look for," Masterson said in an interview. "They know their processes, their procedures and what steps they need to take. But it's taking the simple 'blocking and tackling' steps  of securing their data."

North Dakota's Senate Majority Leader likes the idea of using the Legacy Fund for low interest loans to cities and counties for infrastructure.

Two Minot lawmakers -- State Representative Roscoe Streyle (R) and State Senator David Hogue (R) have drafted a bill for the 2019 session to allow that. And Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney had suggested the idea as a source for capital to build the Red River Valley Water Supply Project – to bring Missouri River water to the Valley during droughts.

An interim Legislative committee is studying whether there will be an increase in driver’s license and vehicle registration fees.

"Right now, our understanding is we're losing money on it," said Interim Government Finance Committee chairman Sen. Ronald Sorvaag (R-Fargo). "Should the taxpayers subsidize the cost of you renewing your driver's license?"

The Committee study was contained in the Department of Transportation's budget bill.

"I think we're subsidizing the plates by $5, or something like that," said Sen. Gary Lee (R-Casselton). "Should we be doing that?"

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