Politics & Government

A House-Senate conference committee has reached an agreement over a proposal to have the state take over funding social service programs that had been paid through county property taxes.

This replaces the 12 percent buydown the state had set aside for property tax relief.

Right now, counties can levy up to 20 mills to pay for those programs.

Senate rejects 'shared parenting' bill

Apr 20, 2017
ND Legislature

The State Senate has rejected a “shared parenting” bill.

The measure would have required courts to consider granting “shared parenting” time to divorced parents – if one parent asks for it. It said that time would be anywhere between 35 and 50 percent. And the judge had to spell out the reasons for ruling either in favor of it or against it.

'Andrew's Law' headed to Gov. Burgum

Apr 19, 2017
ND Legislature

“Andrew’s Law” is on its way to Governor Burgum.

The law sets out rights and responsibilities when law enforcement uses confidential informants. It was named for Andrew Sadek, a student at the State College of Science in Wahpeton, who was a drug informant. His body was found in the Red River, and his parents believe he was murdered.

"Obviously, this is an emotional issue," said Sen. Kelly Armstrong (R-Dickinson).

ND Legislature

A group of 9 NDSU professors said the future of higher education in North Dakota is being threatened by deep budget cuts to the North Dakota University System.

In a letter, the professors suggest the Legislature use “rainy day” funds – including the Legacy Fund – to restore some of the cuts.

But Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said the Legislature will use the interest the Legacy Fund has earned – as is allowed by state law – but it will not touch the fund’s principle.

ND Legislature

The House has passed a retooled “Andrew’s Law” – deigned to protect confidential informants.

It was introduced after State College of Science Student Andrew Sadek’s body was found in the Red River. He had been acting as an informant – and his parents believe he was murdered.

New Town Republican Representative Terry Jones was on the conference committee that worked out the final version of the bill. He told the House informants will now have protections.

Initiated and referendum study okayed

Apr 18, 2017
ND Legislature

The Legislature has passed and sent to Governor Burgum a bill that creates a commission to study North Dakota’s initiative and referral process.

Study subjects include the  costs of placing such measures on the ballot and whether there should be limits on out of state funding of measures.

New voter ID bill heads to the Governor

Apr 17, 2017
ND Legislature

The Legislature has passed and sent to Governor Bugrum a new voter ID bill.

It replaces the law that was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in North Dakota.

The law – passed in 2013 – got rid of the “voter affidavit.” A person who wanted to vote but did not have proper ID could sign that affidavit – and would be allowed to vote. But Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that because the affidavit was discontinued, there was no “fail safe” mechanism for voters without an ID. Hovland said that would put an undue burden on the Native American population.

ND Legislature

The North Dakota Highway Patrol funding bill is now on its way to Governor Burgum.

In that budget bill – the Patrol is authorized to set up a “weigh station bypass” program for trucking companies that have a good safety record.

"Think of it as a 'pre-check' for trucking," said Rep. Mike Nathe (R-Bismarck).

Nathe told the House this program uses technology to allow the trucks to be pre-screened for compliance with safety and weight regulations as the trucks approach fixed or portable weigh stations.

ND Legislature

The majority leaders in the House and Senate said they believe the Legislature could end its session Saturday.

When the session started, they had hoped to have 10 days in the bank in case they needed to come back – but that’s not going to happen – and  both House Majority Leader Al Carlson and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner said it’s more likely they will get done this weekend.

"I'd like to be done before Saturday, but I think that's probably as good a guess as you can find," Wardner told reporters.

As to what could be roadblocks to adjournment?

Xcel and buried power lines in Fargo

Apr 17, 2017

The Public Service Commission said a plan to have Fargo’s Xcel Energy electric customers to pay for a project in downtown Fargo is raising questions.

Fargo city leaders have asked Xcel to bury power lines in the downtown area. It proposes a “special facilities rider” on Fargo’s Xcel customers’ bills.

"It basically allows a company to develop a plan," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "They (Xcel) would account for the costs that are higher than standard construction parameters. If the city agrees, Xcel would allocate it to all the city customers."

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