Politics & Government

Revenue collections 'on track' with budget forecast

Mar 8, 2018

The new director of the Office of Management and Budget had what he called "good news" for the Legislature's interim Government Finance Committee.

"I'm happy to say my first official report as director of OMB contains good news," Joe Morrissette told the Committee. "We are continuing to track very closely to our Legislative revenue forecast."

Morrissette has been on the job since March First. He replaced Pam Sharp, who retired. He told the Committee revenues exceed the May, 2017 forecast by about 1.7 percent since July first, the start of the new fiscal year.

Group proposing minimum wage increase in ND

Mar 6, 2018

A group wants to initiate a measure to raise North Dakota’s minimum wage.

The current state minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The group is proposing a phased increase – to take it to $9.83 an hour in 2019, $12.41 in 2020 and $15 in 2021. After that, there would be annual increases tied to cost of living.

UND preparing to tear down more buildings

Mar 6, 2018

UND is getting ready to tear down more buildings.

The Board of Higher Education has given UND the go-ahead to remove Robertson/Sayre Hall and Corwin/Larimore Hall.

UND Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Mike Pieper said the plan is to start demolition in May, with an August completion.

So, what happens to that space?

"Initially, we'll get it so it drains well," Pieper said. "Initially, it will be green space."

PIeper said discussions are being held for future use of that space as part of the University's planning process.

Hogue proposes "Marsy's Law" Legislative fix

Mar 6, 2018

The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee is drafting a bill to help clarify Marsy’s law.

That’s the initiated Constitutional amendment on victims’ rights voters passed in 2016.

Sen. David Hogue (R-Minot) said his bill would require a crime victim to affirmatively invoke Marsy’s law, rather than assuming it’s automatic.

"Of all the rights they (crime victims) have, in over half of them, it specifically says the Marsy's Law rights have to be asserted by the victim," Hogue said. "In some of them, it's silent."

Amy Sisk

A photo taken of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site by former Prairie Public and Inside Energy Reporter Amy Sisk has become part of a US House committee’s investigation into Russian meddling into US politics.

Sisk saw her photo as part of a Washington Post article on Russian trolls trying to influence the debate over climate change and DAPL.

"As I was scrolling through this article, I came across a photo that I realized I had taken," Sisk said. "Apparently, Russian trolls had taken a photo that I took and turned it into propaganda and a social media post."

A case now before the US Supreme Court could make a difference in some of North Dakota’s election laws.

The case is from Minnesota. A voter was not allowed to cast a ballot in a polling place because he wore a political button saying, “Please ID Me” – and a Tea Party T-shirt. The Minnesota law does not allow political symbols in polling places.

North Dakota’s law is similar to Minnesota’s.

File photo

MDU natural gas customers and Otter Tail Power Company electric customers will see some reductions in their monthly bills, starting March first.

That’s because the investor-owned utilities have started factoring in the effects of the corporate tax cut passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. Both utilities were granted interim rate increases while their main rate cases were pending before the Public Service Commission.

City of Minot

Minot officials say ground will be broken at the end of March for the first three phases of Minot’s flood control project.

This will include a levee system from the US 83 bypass on the west side of Minot up to the 2nd Avenue Southwest Souris River crossing, near the Moose Lodge. That's about 2 miles of levee. In addition, a half-mile long section of floodwall will be built from Broadway to 3rd Street Northeast.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Work is continuing on plans for the Red River Valley Water Supply Project.

That project will bring Missouri River Water to the Red River Valley and other areas of Central and Eastern North Dakota in times of drought.

It has a more than $1 billion price tag. And Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said that price tag can be a bit scary – especially for smaller communities along the route.

"Everyone wants to have drought protection in our state," Mahoney said in an interview. "But it's an investment."

Armstrong running for US House

Feb 22, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A State Senator from Dickinson is seeking the Republican endorsement for North Dakota’s lone US House seat.

Kelly Armstrong is also the former GOP chairman, having resigned that post to run for Congress. Armstrong said he decided to run after incumbent House member Kevin Cramer (R) decided to seek the US Senate nomination.