Politics & Government

The leader of a group to put a measure on the ballot to repeal North Dakota’s Sunday “blue law” says his group is on track to make its goal.

Brandon Medenwald is a Fargo businessman who heads “North Dakota Open on Sundays.” He wants to get rid of the law that now prohibits most retailers from being open before noon Sundays.

"We've been out now for about 8 or 9 weeks,'" Medenwald said. "If I had to guess, we're somewhere between 12 and 15 percent completed."

The issue was brought up in the 2017 Legislature. It passed the House, but was rejected in the Senate.

ND University System

The state Board of Higher Education’s Budget and Finance Committee has given the okay to NDSU’s new tuition model for fall 2018.

The model says students will be charged per-credit hour. That amount would be capped after 13 hours, meaning anything over that would not come with a cost. And NDSU officials say that will help encourage students to finish their degrees faster.

ND Grain Growers Assoc.

An interim Legislative committee has begun a study of vomitoxin.

That’s a fungus that affects small grain crops – and can render the crop useless.

"It's cost billions of dollars over the past three or four decades," said North Dakota Grain Growers executive director Dan Wogsland. "Not just to farmers, but to elevator operators, end users and everything else."

Wogsland said in 2016, vomitoxin was a serious problem in the durum crop.

ND Association of Counties

The executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties says you’ll see some differences in your property tax bills this fall.

Mark Johnson said the 12 percent buy down is gone. Johnson says with the slowdown in the oil industry, state lawmakers decided the state could no longer afford that.

"Legislators said that on the floor," Johnson said in an interview. "They said it's probably not sustainable."

Johnson said at the time the 12 percent buydown passed, legislators wanted to, as Johnson put it, "Share the abundance we had for a couple of years."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

State school superintendent Kirsten Baesler has launched a new “strategic visioning process” – with a goal of strengthening public education in North Dakota.

Baesler said this will involve various state educational agencies and education groups.

"There are a lot of things going on right now in North Dakota," Baesler said. "Each agency is working very hard."

But Baesler said right now,the agencies are going in their own direction.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The director of the North Dakota Corrections Department’s Division of Juvenile Services wants to change the conversation about measuring whether the state is doing a good job with rehabilitating youth.

"I am a little passionate about the notion of positive youth outcomes," Lisa Bjergaard said in an interview.

Bjergaard said all too often, the success of a program in corrections is measure by the rate of recidivism – that is, people who go through the system, but later re-offend.

ND Legislature

An interim Legislative committee has begun its study of health insuarnce for public employees.

Sanford Health has the current contract to provide that insurance. But the Interim Health Care Reform Review Committee is looking at the possibility of adopting a “self-insurance” plan for North Dakota public employees. Right now, the state has a “hybrid plan” – which combines elements of a fully-paid plan with self-insurance.

Interim committee studying juvenile justice reform

Sep 14, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An interim Legislative committee has begun its study of the juvenile justice system.

Members of the Justice Reinvestment Committee are hoping that some of the juveniles who now go through the court system will be able to be diverted into community-based treatment programs.

The Department of Corrections Director of the Division of Juvenile Services, Lisa Bjergaard, said some work toward that reform is already underway, thanks to the study done two years ago, and the recommendations that came from the Council of State Governments.

Burgum starting education innovation task force

Sep 13, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum is creating a task force on Innovation in Education.

Burgum said the current educational system – which has been in place for generations – is at a crossroads.

"The traditional model, which was a 'one-to-many,' classroom-focused, book-centric approach is not really reflective of the tools we have available in the 21st century," Burgum told reporters. "That's not the most effective approach."

Burgum said the task force will look at ways schools can turn out students who are problem solvers. He said it will consist of 11 to 15 members.

ND Attorney General's office

In the wake of the recent disclosure by Equifax that personal information from the credit monitoring company may have been stolen by hackers, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said North Dakotans should take steps to protect themselves against identity theft.

Equifax says more than 143 million Americans may be at risk – and that includes 248,000 North Dakotans.

Stenehjem said people should take steps now to determine if their information was hacked.