Politics & Government

Breaking: ND Legislature sues Gov. Burgum

Dec 8, 2017
Prairie Public file

The North Dakota Legislature has now filed suit against Governor Doug Burgum over some of his line-item vetoes.

Burgum used that line-item power to change parts of various spending bills. Lawmakers argue Burgum deleted words of phrases in budget bills that change their intent – and they say by doing that, Burgum went beyond his powers.

In a statement, Burgum said, “It’s disappointing to see scarce taxpayer dollars being spent on a costly lawsuit over something that’s already been addressed in an Attorney General’s opinion.”

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The president of the Bank of North Dakota is hoping more people will take advantage of a program designed to help families save for college.

It’s called “College SAVE.”  Bank president Eric Hardmeyer said anyone can contribute to a College SAVE account, and that contributed money is non-taxable.

Hardmeyer told the Board of Higher Education it could help reduce student loan debt.

BHE Chairman -- 'Let due process play out'

Dec 1, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Board of Higher Education held a closed door session to discuss a complaint and possible legal action filed by a fired vice-Chancellor of the North Dakota University System.

The Board met at Bismarck State College.

After Lisa Feldner was fired, she filed a complaint with the state Labor Department, complaining of discrimination. In a the 17-page complaint, Feldner alleged among other things that Chancellor Mark Hagerott valued the comments and opinions of the male staffers in the Central Office over the female staffers. Hagerott has denied the allegations.

Initiative would legalize recreational marijuana in ND

Nov 29, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

In 2016 – North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana.

Now another group wants to legalize “recreational pot.” That group has submitted a proposed initiated measure to Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

"It's time to end prohibition," said steering committee spokesman Josh Dryer of West Fargo. "There's no reason for it to be illegal -- nor should there ever have been a reason."

The state Board of Higher Education will be asked to approve changes to the “certificate of completion” program.

Under the current program, a student can receive a “Certificate of Completion” after completing a minimum of 16 semester hours in a program. The proposal would drop that to 9 hours.

Heitkamp holds Bismarck rally for pension protection

Nov 22, 2017
Sen. Heitkamp's office

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) held a "pension rally" at the North Dakota Teamsters' Union headquarters in Bismarck Tuesday (11-21).

Heitkamp said she’s helped to write a bill that would protect retirees -- mainly UPS drivers, other truckers and grocery workers -- who depend on the Central States Pension Fund for their pensions.

The fund became insolvent, and the federal government had to take it over.  Pensioners may face benefit cuts. The federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation will also become insolvent, if the Central States Fund and other pension plans fail.

A new survey of North Dakota schools shows schools place a high importance on the “regional educational associations,” or REAs.

The study was done by the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders. Council executive director Aimee Copas presented the results to the Legislature's  interim Education Policy Committee.  Copas said the survey showed schools believe the REAs are a critical component for the state’s educational system.

Three ND colleges asking for fundraising campaigns

Nov 15, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Three North Dakota colleges want to start fundraising campaigns.

And they will be asking the state Board of Higher Education for permission.

Bismarck State College wants permission to raise $10 million for its expansion and relocation of its Health Science programs. BSC currently leases space in a converted warehouse building in downtown Bismarck, owned by the city of Bismarck. BSC vice-president Dave Clark told the Board's Budget and Finance Committee the college has a lease with the city through the summer of 2020.


The director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services said the Center for Medicare and Medicaid has issued a new rule which could affect mental health treatment in North Dakota.

Chris Jones said it concerns "IMDs" -- Institute for Mental Disease.  Jones said under current rules, Medicaid would only reimburse institutions that are considered psychiatric hospitals withy 16 beds or less.

North Dakotans still playing the lottery

Nov 13, 2017

North Dakotans are still playing the Lottery.

"Right now, this fiscal year, we're actually up about 16 percent compared to the same time frame last year," said state Lottery Director Ryan Koppy. The figures are since July First, the beginning of FY 2018.

"Last fiscal year (FY2017) was our third highest sales total in the state lottery's history," Koppy said. "So right now, we're off to a very good start in this fiscal year."