Politics & Government

Election training includes cyber-security

Mar 9, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A federal Election Assistance Commissioner said voting systems are like most Information Technology systems – they’re subject to attack.

Matthew Masterson talked to County auditors from around North Dakota, who were in Bismarck for election training.

"Election officials already know what to look for," Masterson said in an interview. "They know their processes, their procedures and what steps they need to take. But it's taking the simple 'blocking and tackling' steps  of securing their data."

North Dakota's Senate Majority Leader likes the idea of using the Legacy Fund for low interest loans to cities and counties for infrastructure.

Two Minot lawmakers -- State Representative Roscoe Streyle (R) and State Senator David Hogue (R) have drafted a bill for the 2019 session to allow that. And Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney had suggested the idea as a source for capital to build the Red River Valley Water Supply Project – to bring Missouri River water to the Valley during droughts.

An interim Legislative committee is studying whether there will be an increase in driver’s license and vehicle registration fees.

"Right now, our understanding is we're losing money on it," said Interim Government Finance Committee chairman Sen. Ronald Sorvaag (R-Fargo). "Should the taxpayers subsidize the cost of you renewing your driver's license?"

The Committee study was contained in the Department of Transportation's budget bill.

"I think we're subsidizing the plates by $5, or something like that," said Sen. Gary Lee (R-Casselton). "Should we be doing that?"

Revenue collections 'on track' with budget forecast

Mar 8, 2018

The new director of the Office of Management and Budget had what he called "good news" for the Legislature's interim Government Finance Committee.

"I'm happy to say my first official report as director of OMB contains good news," Joe Morrissette told the Committee. "We are continuing to track very closely to our Legislative revenue forecast."

Morrissette has been on the job since March First. He replaced Pam Sharp, who retired. He told the Committee revenues exceed the May, 2017 forecast by about 1.7 percent since July first, the start of the new fiscal year.

Group proposing minimum wage increase in ND

Mar 6, 2018

A group wants to initiate a measure to raise North Dakota’s minimum wage.

The current state minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The group is proposing a phased increase – to take it to $9.83 an hour in 2019, $12.41 in 2020 and $15 in 2021. After that, there would be annual increases tied to cost of living.

UND preparing to tear down more buildings

Mar 6, 2018

UND is getting ready to tear down more buildings.

The Board of Higher Education has given UND the go-ahead to remove Robertson/Sayre Hall and Corwin/Larimore Hall.

UND Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Mike Pieper said the plan is to start demolition in May, with an August completion.

So, what happens to that space?

"Initially, we'll get it so it drains well," Pieper said. "Initially, it will be green space."

PIeper said discussions are being held for future use of that space as part of the University's planning process.

Hogue proposes "Marsy's Law" Legislative fix

Mar 6, 2018

The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee is drafting a bill to help clarify Marsy’s law.

That’s the initiated Constitutional amendment on victims’ rights voters passed in 2016.

Sen. David Hogue (R-Minot) said his bill would require a crime victim to affirmatively invoke Marsy’s law, rather than assuming it’s automatic.

"Of all the rights they (crime victims) have, in over half of them, it specifically says the Marsy's Law rights have to be asserted by the victim," Hogue said. "In some of them, it's silent."

Amy Sisk

A photo taken of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site by former Prairie Public and Inside Energy Reporter Amy Sisk has become part of a US House committee’s investigation into Russian meddling into US politics.

Sisk saw her photo as part of a Washington Post article on Russian trolls trying to influence the debate over climate change and DAPL.

"As I was scrolling through this article, I came across a photo that I realized I had taken," Sisk said. "Apparently, Russian trolls had taken a photo that I took and turned it into propaganda and a social media post."

A case now before the US Supreme Court could make a difference in some of North Dakota’s election laws.

The case is from Minnesota. A voter was not allowed to cast a ballot in a polling place because he wore a political button saying, “Please ID Me” – and a Tea Party T-shirt. The Minnesota law does not allow political symbols in polling places.

North Dakota’s law is similar to Minnesota’s.

File photo

MDU natural gas customers and Otter Tail Power Company electric customers will see some reductions in their monthly bills, starting March first.

That’s because the investor-owned utilities have started factoring in the effects of the corporate tax cut passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. Both utilities were granted interim rate increases while their main rate cases were pending before the Public Service Commission.

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