Politics & Government

Kroshus running for the remainder of Kalk's PSC term

Feb 6, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus (R) is seeking election to finish the remaining two years on former Commissioner Brian Kalk’s term.

Kroshus was appointed by Gov. Doug Burgum last year – and by state law, would have to run in the next statewide election if he wanted to keep his seat. Kalk resigned to take a job with the Energy and Environmental Research center in Grand Forks.

PSC wants to extend state rail inspection program

Feb 5, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Public Service Commission will ask the 2019 Legislature to continue the state’s rail inspection program.

The 2015 Legislature agreed to create it, with a sunset clause in 2019.

"Prior to my arrive here, when I would look at the rail inspection program, I would ask the question, 'Why do we have an inspection program when the feds already have inspectors out there?'" said Commissioner Brian Kroshus.

Kroshus said a year ago, his answer would have been 'no." But he said he now supports it.

People who want to start manufacturing facilities or “compassion centers” for medical marijuana in North Dakota will have difficulty getting a loan from a bank or credit union – and will also face barriers if they want to deposit money from medical marijuana sales into a bank account.

"Marijuana is still considered an illegal substance, said North Dakota Bankers' Association president Rick Clayburgh.

The federal government still considers it a "schedule one" drug.

During the 2017 drought, the Bank of North Dakota established two special loan programs to help ranchers stressed by the dry conditions.

One was to help farmers find feed for their cattle. A second would help rebuild cattle herds after a number of cows were sold because of a lack of feed.

"But what we found was that, despite the fact that we've had these two programs out there, we've not had any usage," said BND President Eric Hardmeyer.

Boschee running for Secretary of State

Jan 31, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota Democrats now have a candidate for Secretary of State.

State Rep Joshua Boschee (D-Fargo) is seeking his party’s endorsement for the job. Incumbent Republican Al Jaeger has said he’s seeking re-election, but he faces a challenge within his own party from GOP District Chair Will Gardner of Mandan.

In his campaign kick-off, Boschee talked about the Secretary of State’s role as the state’s chief election officer. Boschee said Jaeger and the Republican Legislature have tried to put up roadblocks to voting – some of which have been thrown out by the courts.

UND has decided to partner with a private firm, as it prepares to replace its aging steam plant.

UND has chosen Johnson Controls as the plant’s operator. UND’s Mike Pieper told a subcommittee of the Board of Higher Education Johnson Controls is partnering with some other engineering and architectural firms. Pieper said UND worked with the partners to come up with some ideas to keep steam rates down when the new plant goes on-line.

ND Senate leader keeping an eye on oil prices

Jan 29, 2018

Activity is increasing in the oil patch – as oil prices have rebounded.

But Sen.Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said he’s still being very cautious about the recovery in the Bakken.

Wardner said right now, it looks positive.

"However, you never know about the price of oil," Wardner said. "I'm really concerned that we may be over-supplied again, and drive the price down."

Wardner said prices are up because OPEC has decided to to throttle back on oil production.

Christmann running for another 6 year term on the PSC

Jan 26, 2018

The current Chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission is running for another six-year term on the PSC.

Randy Christmann (R) was first elected in 2012. He formerly was a state Senator from Hazen. He told reporters and supporters in Bismarck he “loves his job” – and he believes in public service.

"Serving the public means making sure consumers get quality service at the best possible prices from regulated monopoly companies," Christmann said. "They don't have a choice on where to go for those services. I think we're doing that very well."

ND Tax Dept.

A state official has announced he will seek another term. But two long-time satte Legislators are calling it quits.

State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger (R) will seek a second full term.

Rauschenberger was appointed to the tax commissioner’s office in January, 2014 by then-Governor Jack Dalrymple. He won a full term that November.

Rauschenberger said he’s made a lot of efficiency improvements in his office. And he said he’s hit the fraud issue pretty hard.