Politics & Government

Higher-ed governance task force begins its work

Jan 12, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education Governance has begun its work.

It held its first meeting at Bismarck State College Friday (1/12/18).

In his opening comments, Gov. Doug Burgum said the mission is to look at the governance system – which dates back to the 1930s – and see if it can be tweaked or modified to meet the needs of 21st century students. Burgum also wanted to dispel some perceptions of what the task force will be doing.

File photo

The state Health Department has established eight regions for medical marijuana dispensaries.

The eight regions are based on the state’s largest cities -- Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, Dickinson, Jamestown, Williston and Devils Lake.

A dispensary can be located within a 50 mile radius of each of those cities.

Medical Marijuana Division interim director Jason Wahl said the requirements for a dispensary are outlined in state law.

Dave Thompson

The federal tax cut bill could mean lower electric and natural gas rates.

That’s what the North Dakota Public Service Commission believes. The PSC has opened a formal investigation on the effect of the tax cuts on those rates.

Corporate tax rates went from 35 percent to 21 percent, effective January first.

The PSC will be asking Xcel Energy, MDU, Otter Tail Power and Great Plains Natural gas for information on how the tax cut will affect their finances.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An interim Legislative committee is looking at what to do with the building that houses Job Service-North Dakota’s state headquarters in Bismarck.

It’s part of a larger study having to do with Job Service offices in Fargo, Rolla and Minot, as well as the regional Job Service office in Bismarck.

One suggestion is to move the staff from the state headquarters buliding to the regional office in Bismarck.

ND's Congressional delegation on infrastructure

Jan 5, 2018

One of President Trump’s big priorities of 2018 is an infrastructure bill. He’s talking a trillion dollars in spending. But not all of that money is federal.

North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer (R) is looking at North Dakota’s needs.

“In my shop, we have been busy identifying  the projects in North Dakota," Cramer said in an interview. "We have quite a long list of project that are either underway on in the queue.”

Cramer said the list includes traditional infrastructure, roads and bridges, plus broadband deployment.

ND Tax Dept.

North Dakota’s taxable sales showed a slight increase in the third quarter of 2017.

Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said for July, August and September, taxable sales were more than $4.7 billion. That’s a 2.3 percent increase over those same months in 2016.

Rauschenberger attributes the increase to oil production in western North Dakota.

"Oil prices started coming back up," Rauschenberger said. "We had strong oil production."

Rauschenberger said the oil sector was up 80 percent compared to 2016.

Redesigning social service delivery in North Dakota

Jan 4, 2018
Dept of Human Services

The director of the North Dakota Human Services Department is updating interim Legislative committees on his department’s efforts to redesign the delivery of social services in North Dakota.

Chris Jones briefed the interim Human Services Committee and the interim Health Services Committee.

"Everybody (in Human Services) is doing what they've been told and taught in the process," Jones told the Health Services Committee. "Some of those processes were there even before DHS existed."

Jones said now, the goal is to break down "those silos."

A Bismarck Republican State Representative who had been looking at a run for Congress or the US Senate says he has decided to run for re-election to his District 7 House seat.

In an e-mail to supporters, and in a post on Facebook, Rep. Rick Becker said he had met with groups like Club for Growth, Freedomworks and the US Chamber of Commerce to discuss a potential run for higher office. But he said he came away from those meetings thinking there’s still more to do in the state of North Dakota, so he wants to stay in the state Legislature.

In 2017, the North Dakota Legislature was asked to fund new voting machines.

The Legislature declined. And that means North Dakota is using the same voting system it purchased back in 2004.

"That's a long life span for technology," said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum.

Silrum said the current machines use the Windows 7 operating system. Windows no longer supports that system, and Silrum said the counties have had to cannibalize their existing machines to have some that still work.

A member of the newly appointed Governor’s Task Force on HIgher Education Governance says he comes to the table with no pre-conceived notions about the issue.

Rep. Mike Nathe (R-Bismarck) is a former chairman of the House Education Committee. Nathe said he’s learned a lot about higher education in that role.

"I don't think it hurts at all to take a look at the current system," Nathe said. "it's close to 80 years old."

The current system dates back to the 1930s. It consists of volunteer members serving on a Board of Higher Education.