Politics & Government

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.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

State auditor Josh Gallion said the Governor’s office needs more transparency in its reasons for using state airplanes for travel.

The three planes are in the Department of Transportation budget. The budget for air travel is $2.1 million for the biennium for all state agencies.

Gallion told the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee that reasons for some of the trips both current Gov.Doug Burgum and former Gov. Jack Dalrymple took were not clearly spelled out.

The US Department of Labor recently issued its Final rule on Association Health Plans. 

The rule will allow associations to sponsor group health coverage,

And North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread believes it will help some people find affordable health insurance. Godfread said this will help a segment of the population that he believes was overlooked in the Affordable Care Act.

The US Supreme Court has ruled states and local government can require Internet retailers to collect sales taxes.

The 5 to 4 ruling reverses a 1992 decision, in which the court ruled a retailer had to have a physical presence in that state to collect sales taxes.

North Dakota US Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D) was North Dakota’s Tax Commissioner at that time. She took that first case to court – it was called “Quill versus North Dakota.”

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Members of the group “North Dakotans for Public Integrity” submitted petitions Monday to place what the group calls the "Anti-Corruption Amendment" to the state Constitution on the November ballot.

The group needed 26,904 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

"I'm honored to announce that over 38,000 petitioners are on the record to place the North Dakota Anti-Corruption amendment on the November ballot," the group's co-chair, Ellen Chaffee, told a rally on the state Capitol steps in Bismarck.

Highway funding option: 'Property Tax'

Jun 8, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The chief financial officer of the North Dakota Department of Transportation told a Legislative interim committee transportation funding is recovering from the economic downturn in the oil and agriculture industries.

"In fact, we are slightly ahead of projections," Shannon Sauer told the interim Government Services Committee.

The projection for the 2019-2021 biennium is $1.29 billion in total transportation revenue. That’s up from $1.27 billion in the current two year period.

But federal highway funding is remaining flat.

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