Politics & Government

Dept of Human Services

The director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services  wants to take North Dakota to the next step – in its efforts to deal with the “Olmstead” decision.

That decision said states should strive to make sure people who are disabled are able to live in the least restrictive environment possible.

"If you compare North Dakota to other states, North Dakota is going a very good job overall," said Human Services director Chris Jones.

Jones sais he now wants to broaden the conversation.

Burgum to chair higher-ed governance task force

Nov 8, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum is creating a Higher Education Governance Task Force.

Burgum said the task force will be looking at the ways the University System is managed – and see if there are changes that need to be made to bring the system – as he put it – into the 21st century.

Burgum said the current Board of Higher Education dates back to the 1930s.

"We've had a similar model in place for 80 years," Burgum told a Capitol news conference. "Now might be a good time for us to take a look to see if that model could be updated."

The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee says Marsy’s Law – the initiated law that’s now a part of the state Constitution – is raising a lot of questions.

The measure – passed by North Dakota voters last November -- put a specific list of crime victims’ rights in the state Constitution.

Recently, a police officer who was involved in an altercation and shooting at a Bismarck motel tried to invoke Marsy's Law to keep his identity secret. But his name appeared on court documents.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department has submitted proposed rules for the Medical Marijuana Program to the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee.

But the availability of medical marijuana is still months away.

The interim director for the Health Department’s Division of Medical Marijuana – Jason Wahl – said the rules basically deal with the “compassion centers” – which will manufacture the medical marijuana – and the dispensaries, where people can come to purchase the product.

Office of Management and Budget

The state of North Dakota will continue to use Moody’s Analytics as its revenue forecasting consultant.

It’s a two year contract, with an option to extend.

The state’s Office of Management and Budget issued a “request for proposals” for a revenue forecasting firm.

"In the end, it was only Moody's that submitted a proposal," said State OMB director Pam Sharp. "We thought we were going to get another one, but on the very last day, they contacted us and told us they chose not to submit a proposal."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Even though the big Sandpiper Pipeline project has been put on indefinite hold – and may not be built – the North Dakota Public Service Commission is extending a “construction inspection” contract for the project.

The pipeline was to extend from the Bakken, across northern North Dakota  to Superior, Wisconsin – 161 miles in length.

A third party firm is hired to make sure construction work is done properly and to the specs set out in the siting permit.

But if the project is on hold, why is the contract being extended?

Godfread: Good idea to shop for health insurance

Oct 30, 2017

Open enrollment for health insurance begins Wednesday.

It’s a short window – open enrollment closes December 15th.

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread is urging those who will purchase insurance on the individual market to shop for the best plan.

"If you do not receive a subsidy, but you're in the individual market, you need to go out and shop, Godfread said. "It would be a pretty good idea, in my opinion, to go out and meet with an insurance agent and really walk through your options."

Sanford Health Plan will be offering health insurance coverage in five North Dakota counties on the Affordable Care Act Exchange

Sanford’s TRUE plan will be available in Traill, Cass, Oliver, Burleigh and Morton counties.

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread said this follows his announcement last week that he would not re-open a rate discussion after President Trump signed an order ending cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance carriers, to reduce rates for lower-income subscribers.

ND tourism 'holds its own' in 2017

Oct 23, 2017
Tourism division

The numbers aren’t in yet, but state tourism officials say 2017 held its own.

"Some parts of the state were up more than others," said state Tourism Division director Sara Otte Coleman. "The Medora, Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park held very strong, after a record-breaking 2016. But other parts of the state were a little spottier."

Otte Coleman said some of the attractions maintained, some were up or down by 5-7 percent. She said there were some things working against the tourism economy in 2017.

Office of Management and Budget

September's revenue collections are in.

And they're ahead of forecast.

State Office of Management and Budget director Pam Sharp said they came in $16.5 million ahead of forecast. And since July, the beginning of FY 2018, state revenues are $26.5 million ahead.

"We do believe we have turned the corner," Sharp said.

Sharp said things have picked up since the spring.

"We've had some really good, solid months of sales tax collections," Sharp said. "I think a lot of that has been generated from the western part of the state. It's encouraging."