Politics & Government

UND to tear down 39 apartment buildings

Jun 21, 2017

UND wants to tear down 39 student apartment buildings.

Six of the buildings are six-plex units; 17 are four-plex units; and 16 are duplexes.

"It's part of a long-term plan at UND for them to right-size their apartment platform," North Dakota University System director of facilities planning Rick Tonder told the Board of Higher Education's Budget and Fianance Committee. "There's also a significant amount of deferred maintenance that they will be eliminating by taking the facilities out as funding is available."

ND Attorney General's office

An Attorney General’s opinion again raises questions about the Legislature designating too much power to the Budget Section.

The opinion dealt with 9 vetoes issued by Gov. Doug Burgum. In five of the cases, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem held that the vetoes were perfectly permissible. Stenehjem said in two cases, the vetoes were not permissible.       

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

To help balance the budget, the 2017 Legislature had to access the budget stabilization fund – the so-called “rainy day” fund.

The fund had $575 million in it – when the fiscal year began last July. Now, as of April 30th, it has just over $6 million.

"It served its purpose," said the state's Chief Investment Officer, Dave Hunter. He said the fund will rebuild.

"It's always great to have more rainy day funds than not," Hunter said. "We have come through a pretty tough time. But we look forward to building it."

ND United

At least four North Dakota school districts have gone to impasse in their contract negotiations with teachers.

And a member of the fact finding commission – which is called in when an impasse is declared – says there will probably be more districts reaching that point.

North Dakota United is the union representing teachers. President Nick Archuleta said he agrees with the fact finding commission chairman. He said it’s due to the state’s tight budget situation.

'Real ID' to be rolled out next spring (2018)

Jun 12, 2017

The state Department of Transportation is getting ready for the rollout of the optional “Real ID” program.

“Real ID” is an enhanced driver’s license. It’s a federal mandate – so you would have to have it to board an airplane or enter a federal building. Without it, you will need to show a passport.

The 2017 Legislature made it “opt in.”

DOT Driver's License Division Director Glenn Jackson said the Department is now working on the technology – and it should be ready by next spring.

'Innovative Education' summit held in Bismarck

Jun 9, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Teachers, principals, school board members, legislators and business-people met in Bismarck for the “Governor’s Summit on Innovate Education.”

The summit was called to look at new and different ways to provide education to school age children. Burgum has said schools have to think outside the traditional 50-minute period, teachers-lecturing and standardized test taking.

Mn. Lawmakers Recap Recent Session

Jun 7, 2017

Despite the scurry to get things finished at the close of this year’s legislative session, a northwest Minnesota lawmaker say he sees the session as a success. Reporter Todd McDonald has details…

'SIRN' project a go

Jun 6, 2017

It’s called the “Statewide Interoperable Radio Network” project – or “SIRN” (siren) for short.

And thanks to the actions of the 2017 Legislature, providing a funding mechanism, the project will soon get off the ground.

It’s a project that would allow various public safety agencies to talk to each other – a shortcoming pointed out nationally after 9/11, when first responders were unable to communicate.

Self insurance study revived, modified

Jun 1, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A Legislative interim committee will study whether the state should continue with the current health insurance plan for state employees, or go with a self-funded plan.

Prairie Public file

Gov. Doug Burgum (R) will be asked to chair a special Tribal-State relations interim committee.

That committee will be especially looking at taxation issues between the state and the Tribal governments. That panel will be made up of the House and Senate leadership, representatives of the two Taxation committees, the Tax Commissioner, the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) made the motion in the Legislative Management Committee to ask the Governor to chair it.