Politics & Government

House passes campaign finance reform bill

Apr 5, 2017
ND Legislature

The House has passed a new campaign finance reporting bill.

It expands what candidates have to report to the Secretary of State to include campaign expenditures and the amount of contributions under that $200 threshold. Contributions over $200 are reported individually. It also prohibits a candidate form using campaign contributions for personal things.

"I hope that we as a Legislature give this strong support," said House Minority Leader Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks). "We will send a message to all North Dakotans that we are not afraid of a little sunlight."

ND Legislature

Supporters call it a game of skill. Opponents say it’s nothing more than a slot machine.

And the House narrowly agreed with the latter view – defeating a bill that would have allowed betting on “historic horse races.”

Under the bill, you could bet on a previously run horse race. The races would be available through electronic devices. And those devices would only show the last moments of those races.  The bill would have allowed those machines in up to 10 locations across North Dakota, and those places would have to have authorized off-track betting.

Mn. Leadership Opposes Trump Budget

Apr 4, 2017

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is reaching out to the state’s Congressional delegation asking them to oppose the budget being set forward by President Trump. Reporter Todd McDonald has details...

ND court system feeling the budget pinch

Apr 4, 2017

The judiciary has not been immune to budget cuts.

So far, it has been asked to take a $10.9 million cut from its 2015-2017 biennium budget.

"That's a huge amount of money for us," said state court administrator Sally Holewa. In an interview, she said there was an effort of the last few years to increase staffing – and that means peripherals were cut. Hoelwa said the only place to cut now is staff.

'Self-insurance' bill now before a Senate committee

Apr 4, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A Senate committee is considering a bill to have the state set up a self-insurance plan for the state employees’ health benefit.

North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t have self-insurance. It contracts with Sanford Health to provide that coverage.

"There's not a bogeyman in here," House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo), the bill's lead sponsor,  told the Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. "This is a matter of whether we believe we can be a risk-taker -- and also a reward-taker."

ND Legislature

The House has rejected an amendment to a power generation study bill that opponents said would have severely restricted wind power development in North Dakota.

The amendment would have required the Public Service Commission to consider “need” when siting a new power generation facility.  Supporters said all this does is ask the PSC to do its job.

"This is not a war on wind thing," said Rep. Todd Porter (R-Mandan). "This is making sure that the next one in isn't causing someone else to drop out."

ND Legislature

As the Legislature debates whether to have the state take over funding for county social service programs, the future of the 12 percent property tax buydown plan appears to be slightly shaky.

That “bucket” of money – which comes from oil taxes – would be used to pay for the takeover of the county responsibility for social services. But the House wants to study it for two years. And there is a question if the 12 percent will be there for the second year of this biennium.

Bill on confidential informants likely headed to a conference committee

Mar 31, 2017
ND Legislature

A bill designed to protect confidential informants has been changed by a Senate committee.

That bill was introduced after State College of Science Student Andrew Sadek’s body was found in the Red River. He had been a drug informant – and his family believes he was murdered.

The senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill – so that it would be given to the Police Officers Standards and Training board to write rules for the treatment of confidential informants.

That change has angered Andrew Sadek’s mother, Tammy Sadek.

Senate upholds Governor's veto

Mar 31, 2017
ND Legislature

The state Senate has voted to uphold Governor Burgum’s veto of a measure designed to limit recruitment and retention bonuses he can give to his office staff.

The bill was introduced after Governor Dalrymple paid what some considered extravagant bonuses to try and keep his staff. The measure would limit that to $5000 per employee.

But Sen. Kyle Davison (R-Fargo) argued the bill unfairly singles out the Governor’s office, while allowing other state agencies the flexibility to pay out bonuses.

ND Legislature

A House committee is delaying by two years a plan for the state to take over the funding of county social service programs.

Instead, the issue would be studied in the interim.

Supporters have touted that effort as real property tax relief and reform. The Senate already approved the takeover in the 2017-2019 biennium.  But House Finance and Taxation Committee chairman Craig Headland (R-Montpelier) said that proposal has generated a number of questions – such as how will a takeover of funding generate efficiencies.