Politics & Government

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission has decided that Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative will provide power to a new grain handling facility being built near Mooreton in Richland County.

Minn-Kota Ag products is building that plant.  It will process 20,000 bushels of grain per hour, and has a storage capacity of 3 million bushels. It is scheduled to go on-line in June.

Minn-Kota had wanted Otter Tail Power Company to provide electricity to the new plant. But Dakota Valley objected, because the plant is in its service area.

North Dakota’s Insurance Department has begun a market conduct examination of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of North Dakota.

"I use the term loosely -- kinda looking under the hood, a little bit," said state Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread.

Godfread says if you look across the country, most major insurance companies get examined every three to five years.

"This isn't anything out of the ordinary," Godfread said. "It's one of my duties as Insurance Commissioner to ensure that our consumers are getting the services they're being promised."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s chief information officer says as the state becomes more computerized, the threats of computer hacking grow along with it.

"Lots of people say, 'North Dakota -- we're small, and nobody's coming after us," CIO Shawn Riley said at a meeting of elected and appointed state department heads. "On average, we defend 7.3 million attacks a month. They're comin' after us."

Riley said bad actors are looking at the state both for its energy and its network.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum wants to see more collaboration among state agencies when it comes to building budgets.

Next month, Burgum will release his budget guidelines for state agencies for the 2019-2021 biennium. State agencies will build their budget requests based on those guidelines. But Burgum told representatives of agencies during a meeting in Bismarck Wednesday agencies sometimes have similar responsibilities, but their own budgets for certain programs and issues, such as addiction treatment. And he wants agencies to be more collaborative.

ND taxable sales grew 3% in 2017, compared with 2016

Mar 29, 2018
ND Tax Dept.

North Dakota’s taxable sales grew by about 3 percent in 2017, compared with 2016.

Taxable sales and purchases totaled $17.9 billion in 2017 – up from $17.3 billion in 2016.

What we really saw was stronger commodity prices, specifically oil prices," said North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger. "That really helped lift the sales tax base in North Dakota."

Rauschenberger said it’s modest growth, but it shows the the economy continuing to improve after the post-oil boom drops.

A Minot lawmaker who chairs an interim Legislative committee looking at the potential sale or re-purpose of several state-owned buildings has some questions about agency decisions on ownership of buildings versus rental.

The interim Government Administration Committee is looking at the sale or repurposing of the Job Service- North Dakota state headquarters in Bismarck. It is also looking at the future of regional Job Service offices in Bismarck, Fargo, Minot and Rolla.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s state Internet service is undergoing a huge upgrade.

The carrier – Dakota Carrier Network – will be upgrading "StageNET" to a 100-gigabit network, to provide faster Internet services to K-12 schools and state government.

DCN CEO Seth Arndorfer said students and teachers are going to notice major improvements in what they can do on-line – and how fast they can do it.

When the 2017 Legislature did not appropriate money for general state employee pay raises, the North Dakota University System instituted a “pay freeze” for the 2017-2018 school year.

But if the state Board of Higher Education agrees, that freeze will be lifted for 2018-2019.

The Board’s Budget and Finance Committee passed its budget guidelines for the campuses, with language allowing the college presidents to give pay raises.

But there’s a caveat.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A Legislator is suggesting a way to help groups who want to initiate a measure to have better and more understandable drafts of those measures.

Rep. Scott Louser (R-Minot) wants to require initiated measures to be drafted by the Legislative Council, so the measures would fit into North Dakota laws.

University of North Dakota's president said if there is a morale problem on campus it has less to do with his recent interview at a Florida school and more to do with the state legislature forcing the school to make budget cuts.

Mark Kennedy was on a short list of candidates for the Central Florida president’s job. That job went to someone in-house.