Politics & Government

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s Department of Transportation will be proposing increases in driver’s license fees and motor vehicle registration fees in the 2019 Legislature.

DOT representatives presented that to the Legislature’s interim Government Finance Committee.

Right now, the fee for a “Class D” driver’s license – the one most people have – is $15 for six years. DOT says driver’s license fees haven’t been raised since the 1980s, and don’t cover the costs.

As the President and Congress discuss a new infrastructure plan, it appears the funding formula may change in terms of federal highway dollars.

It used to be that 80 percent would come from the feds, and 20 percent would be a state match. Now what’s being talked about is 80 percent from state and local sources, including public-private partnerships, with 20 percent being the federal share.

"I actually, at some level, welcome that," said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. "That gives us more local decision-making, and it can free us from federal regulations."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Minot’s city manager said after years of low property taxes, the city was forced to raise property taxes substantially in 2017.

The oil boom brought with it substantial growth in city sales taxes, and increases in property valuation. That allowed the city to drop its mill levy in 2011. But city manager Tom Barry told the legislature’s interim Taxation Committee – a number of things happened when the oil play slowed down.

SCHSC

The South Central Human Service Center in Jamestown is opening a satellite office in Valley City.

Center director Dan Cramer said it will mean Valley City-area people will have greater access to behavioral health services. Cramer said a steering group in Valley City raised some issues concerning those services.

"One of the issues identified is a barrier that exists with transportation, for folks having trouble getting to Jamestown," Cramer said. "Also, just a general need for mental health and addiction treatment in the community."

Secretary of State's office

In the wake of the Republican-endorsed candidate for North Dakota Secretary of State withdrawing his name from the ballot, incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger  has decided to run.

But he will run as an independent.

Jaeger said state law does not specifically address this kind of situation – when an endorsed candidate voluntarily withdraws.

"I'll need 1000 signatures on a petition," Jaeger said. "They will have to be filed before Sept. 4th. That option is what exists in state law."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum held one of his “Main Street” initiative meetings in Mandan Wednesday.

"I think Mandan is actually a poster child for it (Main Street)," said Mandan Mayor Tim Helbling. "We have a number of renaissance zone projects, storefront improvement projects, and other things some people would like to eliminate. If we wouldn't have had those opportunities, we wouldn't be in the growth pattern we're in today."

Helbling said those efforts are helping to make Mandan an attractive city. And he said that’s reflected in the city’s population growth.

North Dakota voters may be asked to make some changes to the state’s Constitution concerning who is eligible to vote in North Dakota elections.

Article II already states you have to be a resident of the US and of North Dakota to vote. But the chairman of the sponsoring committee, former state Republican Party chairman and GOP State Senate candidate Gary Emineth said the proposed amendment would further clarify who can vote, and in what elections.

ND chosen for UAV pilot project

May 10, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota has been chosen as one of the 10 participants in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems pilot program.

North Dakota’s Department of Transportation will be the program manager. It will work with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks, as well as local governments and businesses.

This pilot is designed to integrate drones with normal air traffic.

North Dakota’s department of Transportation says it didn’t hear many complaints about snow removal in areas served by eight shuttered maintenance shops.

To save money, the 2017 Legislature approved a plan by DOT to close maintenance garages in Gackle, Courtenay, Litchville, Fessenden, Finley, New England, Mayville and Starkweather. People in those cities came to the Legislature to protest, saying they would have to wait for snowplows from outside those areas.

It's road construction season

May 4, 2018

The North Dakota Department of Transportation will spend between $350 million and $400 million during the summer road construction season.

"It's pretty significant," said DOT office of operations director Wayde Swenson. "It's not like the last few years, where we were in the heyday of the oil boom. But it's still a significant amount of money being spent this summer."

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