Politics & Government

ND Legislature

An agreement is near on a bill to have the state pick up the cost of county social services.

The House Finance and Taxation Committee has aspproved amendments to the bill introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo. The amendments call for a two year pilot project, involving having the state take over all North Dakota counties’ costs for providing social service programs. Then, after two years,

"We're going to ask the Department of Human Services to put in their budget a plan for the future," Carlson told Capitol reporters.

Lawsuit over behavioral health?

Apr 10, 2017
ND Legislature

A Fargo legislator believes the state is going backwards in behavioral health -- and that may lead to a lawsuit.

Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) said House Bill 1040, which came out of interim studies on the issue, originally had $28 million in it. But that’s now down to $400,000. And he said that has essentially destroyed new initiatives.

Mathern said in the state department of Human Services, over 100 positions have been cut, many dealing with behavioral health.

ND Legislature

A bill supporters call true property tax relief – and reform – is a source of disagreement between the House and the Senate as the 2017 Legislative session heads toward adjournment.

That bill would have the state take over full funding of social service programs now funded by county property taxpayers.

"That really is an important bill as far as getting everything to fall in line," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson).

Wardner said he believes it is sustainable property tax relief.

Change in Legislative schedule this week

Apr 10, 2017
Dave Thompson / ND Legislature

As the 2017 legislature approaches the end, there will be some changes in the schedules.

For example, there will be no House or senate floor sessions tiomorrow (Tuesday).

"We're not going to gavel in," said House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo). "It gives us a 10-hour block of time where we can meet again and again on conference committees, and get a lot of them resolved."

That will not count as a legislative day.

As for Good Friday?

Wardner: Medical marijuana bill a 'done deal'

Apr 7, 2017
ND Legislature

It appears the medical marijuana issue won’t be going to a House-Senate conference committee after all.

"We're concurring (with the House amendments)," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner. "It's a done deal."

Wardner is the main sponsor of the bill to rewrite the medical marijuana initiated measure passed by voters last November. Wardner and the other House and Senate floor leaders wanted to make sure the measure met North Dakota standards – and would prevent it from becoming recreational marijuana.

Senate votes for a 'contingency' medicaid fraud unit

Apr 7, 2017
ND Legislature

The Senate has agreed to establish a “Medicaid fraud” unit in the Attorney Generals’ office – on a contingency basis.

North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t have such a unit. The state has had a waiver – but the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid has told the state that waiver likely end soon. However, CMS hasn’t given a definite date when the waiver would disappear.

The amendment would establish the fraud unit if and when CMS gives the state a deadline—sometime before the next Legislative session.

House kills oil tax bill

Apr 7, 2017
ND Legislature

The House has defeated a measure that makes the tax on oil permanent at 10 percent.

The bill follows up the actions of the 2015 Legislature, which got rid of most of the low price "triggers" to reduce the oil tax -- but lowered the top rate from 11 1/2 percent to 10 percent. But there still was a top-end trigger, so if the price of a barrel of oil hit $90, the tax would go up to 11 percent. As introduced, the bill would have ended that top-end trigger.

Capitol building security measures will be permanent

Apr 6, 2017
ND Legislature

When the 2017 Legislative session began, security measures were put in place at the state Capitol because of concern about Dakota Access Pipeline protestors disrupting lawmakers’ work.

Now, the Legislature has decided to make those measures permanent. That means public access will only be allowed through the Capitol’s south doors. That entrance will have permanent metal detectors, and will have Highway Patrol officers armed with tasers.

ND Legislature

A bill that could lead to North Dakota collecting sales tax from Internet retailers is on its way to Gov. Burgum.

The bill would require an Internet site that has $100,000 or more in sales to North Dakotans – or has 200 or more North Dakota clients, to remit sales tax collections to the state. But it will only happen if and when the US Supreme Court overturns its ruling -- in the "Quill v. North Dakota" case -- that does not allow states to collect those taxes.

ND Legislature

The House has approved the budget bill for the state Industrial Commission – and included in that is a proposal that could end the profit sharing arrangement for workers at the state Mill and Elevator.

The bill would have 75 percent of the Mill’s profits transferred to the state’s general fund. Right now, it’s 50-50.

Rep. Rich Becker (R-Grand Forks) said for those mill workers who are eligible for profit sharing, that could mean a 13 to 19 percent pay reduction.