Politics & Government

The president of the North Dakota Council of College Faculties has been named to Gov. Doug Burgum’s Task Force for Higher Education Governance.

Dr. Debora Dragseth of Dickinson State University will replace Bismarck State College Institutional Research Analyst Dr. Ellie Shockley. Shockley recently changed jobs, causing a conflict of interest. Dragseth becomes the voting member, while Shockley will remain on the Task Force in a non-voting capacity.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A number of North Dakota state agencies have asked for extensions on submitting their proposed budgets to the Office of Management and Budget for the 2019-2021 biennium.

"More than normal, I would say," OMB director Joe Morrissette told the Legislature's Budget Section.

Morrissette said part of the reason for the extensions is the extra “strategy review” sessions OMB has had with the agencies.

Bjornson named Legislative Council director

Jul 12, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s Legislative Management Committee has hired Jon Bjornson as the new director of the Legislative Council.

If you are not a legislator, you may be wondering – what’s that?

"Not a lot of people know who we are, what we are and what we do," Bjornson said.

The Council writes legislation, manages fiscal affairs and provides legal advice to legislators. Bjornson said the Council is the only staff lawmakers have.

"You are citizen legislators," Bjornson told Legislative Management. "All the other branches and elected officials have their own staffs."

Gallion: 'Silos' provide some accountability

Jul 9, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

State auditor Josh Gallion is raising concerns about one of Gov. Doug Burgum’s initiatives in “reinventing government.”

Burgum has talked about getting rid of “silos” in state government, and has also discussed state government working more as “one.”

Gallion raised the concern during a recent Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee meeting.

"I believe when used properly, silos create a small degree of separation, which can be used as an internal control," Gallion told the Committee. "It promotes transparency and accountability."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Supporters of an initiated measure to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota have submitted petitions to the Secretary of State to get the measure on the November ballot.

The group needs 13,452 valid signatures. The group submitted petitions with around 18,700 signatures.

"We did something that I don't think a lot of people thought was possible," said "Legalize ND" chairman David Owen. "Not only did we do it, we exceeded it."

Owen said his group received a lot of positive responses from those who signed.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group calling itself “North Dakotans for Citizen Voting” has submitted petitions to get a Constitutional measure on the November ballot.

Supporters say it will strengthen the state’s Constitution on who is eligible to vote in any North Dakota election, laying out that only state residents can vote.

"While the Century Code does state that you have to be a citizen and a North Dakota resident, the Constitution is ambiguous," said group chairman Gary Emineth.

North Dakota counties – and cities with municipal courts – are getting billed for upgrades to the state’s crime victim notification system that are needed after voters passed a victim rights constitutional amendment.

That amendment – called “Marsy’s Law” – was approved by voters in 2016.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem asked the 2017 Legislature for $815,000 over two years to make changes to the system, called “SAVIN” – which stands for  Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification.

Two loan programs through the Bank of North Dakota, designed to assist livestock producers affected by last year’s drought, are being extended.

The Breeding Stock Rebuilding program and the Feed Cost program were created after parts of the state suffered very dry conditions, and some ranchers had to sell off part or all of their herds. Both were implemented in late summer 2017.

Bank of North Dakota president Eric Hardmeyer said few loans were made last year in either program, as ranchers waited to see what was going to happen in 2018.

Two loan programs through the Bank of North Dakota, designed to assist livestock producers affected by last year’s drought, are being extended.

The Breeding Stock Rebuilding program and the Feed Cost program were created after parts of the state suffered very dry conditions, and some ranchers had to sell off part or all of their herds. Both were implemented in late summer 2017.

Bank of North Dakota president Eric Hardmeyer said few loans were made last year in either program, as ranchers waited to see what was going to happen in 2018.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An interim Legislative committee is looking at three bill drafts designed to bring the Public Employees Retirement System back to being fully funded.

It’s been a multi-year fix for the system.

The bills would increase both employee and employer contributions, would temporarily reduce the “retirement multiplier” from 2 percent to 1.75 percent for new hires until the fund is at 100 percent funding, and would reallocate the 1.14 percent employer contribution to the retiree health insurance credit fund to the general pool of funds.

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