Politics & Government

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Public Service Commissioner Brain Kalk is resigning – to take a job with the Energy and Environmental Research Center, part of UND.

Kalk will become the Director of Energy Systems Development with the EERC.

"The EERC is looking for ways to develop more energy, develop it more efficiently, ways to do it cleaner," Kalk said in an interview with Prairie Public. "There are things out there that need to be environmentally cleaned up. They do a lot of good reseach up there, and a lot of good, practical applications."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

At 9:00, the senate Transportation Committee opened the hearing on Senate Bill 2167.

“It has to do with time,” said bill sponsor Sen. Dave Oehlke (R-Devils Lake).

Specifically, time zones.

Oehlke’s bill would put the state in one time zone – as written, Central time. And it would eliminate Daylight Savings Time. Oehlke told the committee his bill would save businesses time – and money – especially those who serve both Central and Mountain Time.

HFA director: Still a need for affordable housing

Jan 19, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The director of North Dakota’s Housing Finance Agency hopes to continue the state’s “Housing Incentive Program.”

The program helps developers go ahead with affordable housing projects by providing them state income tax credits.

"Obviously, we believe the Incentive Fund has been a very valuable tool in creating affordable housing," Jolene Kline told the state Industrial Commission.

Even though a few North Dakota Legislators are headed to Washington, DC for Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration, they’re doing it on their own dime.

The state Legislature will not be sending an official delegation.

"When the question was asked of me last year, when the allotments came out, I said we're not going to spend state money to send people to Washington," said Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), the chairman of the Legislative Management Committee. "We had to reduce the budget of the Legislative Assembly."

Senate passes Medical Marijuana delay

Jan 18, 2017

The state Senate has unanimously passed a bill delaying the implementation of medical marijuana.

Voters approved Measure 5 in the November election. But since it was approved, the state Health Department has been trying to write rules. The department says it needs more time.

The bill is sponsored by the Republican and Democratic floor leaders in both houses.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum is proposing to slice another $159 million out of former Governor Dalrymple’s executive budget request.

Burgum met with Legislative leaders Monday (1-16-17). In a statement, Burgum said the continued weakness in tax collections caused him to make further proposed reductions.

"It might not be enough," said Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), who was at that meeting. "He's using the Dalrymple revenue forecast. We have already reduced that."

Delaying implementation of medical marijuana

Jan 16, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Legislative leaders say the state Health Department needs more time to set up rules and regulations on medical marijuana.

Voters in November passed a measure legalizing the use of medical cannabis.

The bill would delay implementation of the medical marijuana law until the end of July. It was supposed to take effect 30 days after the November election, which would have been Dec. 8th, 2016.

Tourism 'big business' for North Dakota

Jan 13, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

03046 Tourism Burgum                                                      1-12-17 ddt

Statistics for 2015 show tourism is a big player in North Dakota’s economy.

A study shows nearly 22 million people visited North Dakota that year. They spent $3.1 billion dollars. And the study – done for North Dakota by the Pennsylvania-based Tourism Economics – shows the industry is outpacing many state industries.

"It's big business," said economist Adam Sacks with Tourism Economics. "As that money flows through the economy, it generates total business activity of $5 billion."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The sponsor of a bill to raise the speed limit on North Dakota’s Interstate highways from 75 to 80 miles per hour said the bill will save time and money – and will not increase the number of accidents.

Senator Lonnie Laffen (R-Grand Forks) told the Senate Transportation Committee he had several reasons for introducing the bill. One is time.

A West Fargo lawmaker has introduced a bill to raise the speed limits on all state highways by 5 miles per hour.

"The Interstates would be 80, four lane highways would be 75, and two lane highways would be 70," said Rep. Ben Koppelman (R-West Fargo). "People are probably driving those speeds now."

Koppelman said it makes sense to have the speed limit at what is actually allowed.

"We (legislators) set policy," Koppelman said. "That's our job as a Legislature."