Politics & Government

A state Senator thinks it’s time for a change – in time, that is.

Sen. Dave Oehlke (R-Devils Lake) has a bill to put all of North Dakota on Central Standard Time. And it would eliminate Daylight Savings Time for the state.

Oehlke has a number of co-sponsors. He said they all think it’s time to make this change.

"A couple of those folks have businesses that operate on both sides of the state, in both time zones," Oehlke said. "They see the total sense of making it work for their businesses in particular."

As for Daylight Savings Time?

'Single License Plate' bill rejected

Jan 12, 2017

03037 License plates                                              1-11-17 ddt

The House has rejected a measure to allow cars and trucks to only have one license plate, instead of two.

Supporters had argued it would save money. They also said 19 other states only require a rear plate. Opponents argue law enforcement wants two plates to make it easier to identify the owners – and they say it may increase costs for petroleum marketers, who will have to add a number of surveillance cameras to detect drive-offs. Supporters of the measure, however, reject those arguments.

The state Senate has rejected a bill that would change some of the definitions of “marriage” in North Dakota Century Code – to make it conform with the US Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex marriage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had recommended the bill be defeated.

Sen. Janne Myrdal (R-Edinburgh)  is a member of that committee. She said the people who testified before the committee said it wouldn’t make any difference if the bill passed or failed. And Myrdal said the North Dakota Constitution describes marriage as between one man and one woman.

Rolla lawmaker wants to raise the minimum wage

Jan 11, 2017
Courtesy Rep. Nelson

The North Dakota Legislature will consider a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Rep. Marvin Nelson (D-Rllla) wants to raise the minimum to $9.25 an hour. The bill would tie further increases in the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index.

Nelson said he’s hoping raising the minimum wage will attract workers to rural North Dakota.

A state lawmaker wants to allow North Dakota retail stores to be open any time they want on a Sunday.

Right now, retailers can’t open their doors until noon Sundays.

Rep. Pam Anderson (D-Fargo) said her bill would strip away the remainder of North Dakota’s “blue laws.”  Anderson says it will help North Dakota businesses compete with surrounding states – and the Internet.

"I think it's a great idea," Anderson said. "Especially when you can shop 24/7 (on the Internet)."

Anderson said she introduced the bill on behalf of a constituent.

Bill would eliminate the office of State Treasurer

Jan 9, 2017

Two state lawmakers -- one Republican, one Democrat -- have introduced a Constitutional amendment to get rid of the office of state Treasurer.

"This certainly isn't a new idea," said the measure's lead sponsor, Rep. Mike Nathe (R-Bismarck). "But I do think it's a new environment, with the challenges we face today, and with the big movement to get serious about making government smaller."

The co-sponsor – Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) – unsuccessfully ran for Treasurer in 2016 on a platform of eliminating the office.

'Angel Fund' tax breaks debated in House committee

Jan 9, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A Legislative Committee is considering a bill to phase out the state tax credit for so-called “angel funds” – and rolling them into the seed capital fund.

“Angel funds” are usually made up of a group of investors that put their money toward start-up businesses. The credit was created in 2007. And there is no requirement that angel investors help North Dakota projects. The seed capital fund was originally designed to give tax breaks to single investors. And there are requirements for where they can make their investments.

Courtesy ND Legislature

A state Senator from Minot has introduced a bill creating a commission to study the state’s initiative and referral process.

"I want us to look at where the system could be better -- that's all," said Sen. David Hogue (R-Minot). "Many stakeholders are saying it isn't functioning the way we would want it to."

Hogue said he though rather than the Legislature taking a look at it, and then putting something on the ballot, why not do a comprehensive study.

Republican Legislative leaders say they won’t be able to do as much as they would like in the area of behavioral health.

But they say they will do a few things.

Behavioral health advocates say there’s a growing need for community based treatment. Judges have said they have no choice but to sentence drug addicts and people with mental health issues to prison – because that’s the only treatment available.

The leaders say the money isn’t there to go full-bore into community treatment.

Courtesy ND Legislature

House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved a revenue forecast that’s slightly less than the December forecast.

It anticipates $170 million less in the general fund. But it is an “interim” prediction, as a new full forecast will be released in March.

"It respects reality," said Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "There is less money coming in. And we can anticipate less money coming in at this stage."